Monday, January 12, 2015

Gilbert Church's Freedom of Religion Case Went to the U.S. Supreme Court Today

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Today the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a First Amendment case involving a small Gilbert church and the town's sign regulations.

These rules say directional signs can be no larger than 6 square feet, and they must be removed in the next 14 hours. By contrast, signs for political candidates can be up to 32 square feet and tend to remain in place for months.

The Clyde Reed of Good News Community Church is fighting that, because others, such as political candidates, do not have the same guidelines.

From a Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm that aims to protect "free expression of all religious traditions," press release:

Small houses of worship such as Good News Community Church rely on signs to invite people in the community to their service, since they have often do not have a permanent location and have limited means to share their message. Now they face fines and possible jail time for practicing their freedom of speech.

“The court should not let Gilbert get away with the excuse that it was ‘just chance’ that it treated churches much worse than political or commercial advertisers,” said Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in a statement. “Gilbert’s rules don’t treat people equally, and that violates the First Amendment.”

From The  Associated Press:

The National League of Cities and other associations of local officials are backing the town and warning that a ruling in favor of the church would make it "nearly impossible" for cities and towns to craft sign regulations that deal with a community's appearance and safety.

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