Comments on Supreme Court oral arguments in Reed v. Town of Gilbert
“The Supreme Court should ensure that no government in America is allowed to prefer one form of speech over another. No one’s speech is safe if the government is allowed to pick free-speech winners and losers based on the types of speech government officials prefer. The Supreme Court has a long history of ensuring that the government treats all speech in a content-neutral manner. That’s why we trust the court will not allow the town of Gilbert to continue giving preferential treatment to certain messages while marginalizing others.”
The following comments were delivered by Good News Community Church Pastor Clyde Reed, the ADF client defending his church’s free speech, at Monday’s press conference outside the U.S. Supreme Court after oral arguments:
“I am 82 years old and have been a pastor for over 40 years. I never dreamed my small church signs would be a topic for the Supreme Court. All we wanted to do was use temporary signs to welcome and invite the community to our Sunday morning services. We saw many different kinds of signs, like political and real estate signs, all over Gilbert all year long, so we did not think it would be a problem to place church invitation signs. But much to our surprise, we soon found out that Gilbert’s code requires our church signs to be much smaller and up for a far shorter period of time than many other types of signs. In fact, because we could only put signs up 12 hours before our services, it means placing them in the dark of night the evening before our services while other types of signs can be up for months at a time. We also learned that if we violate the strict rules on our signs, we face criminal fines and even possible jail time. This whole experience has been shocking to me – our signs inviting people to church are very important yet are treated as second-class speech. We aren’t asking for special treatment; we just want our town to stop favoring the speech of others over ours. I pray that the Supreme Court will affirm our First Amendment freedoms and uphold our church’s and others’ free speech rights. Thank you to our attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom for all their work and to the Supreme Court for hearing our case today.”
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.