BREAKING: Supreme Court Takes Case on Church Free Speech Rights
Tuesday, the Supreme Court announced it will take another major religious liberty case, this one for its next term, which begins on October 6th. Reed v. Town of Gilbert is a case brought by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a First Amendment challenge to the town’s ordinance denying churches the right to advertise in the same manner as businesses or political candidates.
The town of Gilbert, Arizona—a suburb of Phoenix—has an ordinance that treats signs inviting the public to attend a church and many other nonprofit groups differently from other signs. As ADF’s petition for certiorari showed in pictures, political signs can be up to 32 square feet and posted in the most noticeable places around the clock. Signs from churches and similar groups, however, can only be six square feet, in less noticeable locations, and cannot be kept up for more than 14 hours at a time.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in a 2-to-1 split decision that because ADF could not prove a discriminatory motive, the sign ordinance is constitutional as a content-neutral regulation on the time, place, and manner of speech.
ADF contends that this, instead, discriminates against certain types of content, and that Good News Community Church has a constitutional right under the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment to reach out to those driving nearby, inviting those motorists to visit the church for Sunday services.
ADF Vice President David Cortman—who is lead counsel in Reed—exclusively tells Breitbart News, “We are thrilled the Court accepted this case and are confident they will hold that religious signs should be protected under the First Amendment.”
The case will likely be heard in December 2014 or January 2015, with a decision rendered by June 2015.
Ken Klukowski is senior legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.