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U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Limits on Signs

On July 1, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Reed v Town of Gilbert, 13-502. The issue is whether the First Amendment allows local governments to put size and time limits on certain kinds of signs, and vastly more permissive limits on other types of signs. The government being sued is Gilbert, Arizona. The town permits political signs to be 32 square feet, and Homeowners Association signs advertising events and festivals to be 80 square feet. But a sign intended to direct passersby to other kinds of events must be no larger than 6 square feet.

In addition, political signs may remain in place for months, but certain other types of signs that refer to events can be posted only 12 hours before the event, and must be taken down one hour after the event. The case was brought by a small church congregation that does not have its own church building; instead it meets in schools. The church says it depends on its own signs to inform passersby of its services. Here is the cert petition. The church filed its cert petition on October 21, 2013. The oral argument will be late in 2014 or early in 2015. The town justifies the sign restrictions on the basis of safety and aesthetics.

4 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    How many signs in 1776-1789 for A to Z stuff ???

  2. baronscarpia

    How about robots that are programmed to prowl the streets, select individuals, and follow them while reciting the religious views of their closely held corporate owners, directly into the ears of their victims?

    Just “gently persuasive” statements, of course.

  3. Doug McNeil

    We won on that issue against an analogous law in BELL v. BALTIMORE COUNTY, 550 F.Supp.2d 590 (2008) — and made some important new case law about content discrimination. Our ACLU attorney kept saying, “It’s content discrimination — you have to read the sign to know whether or not the law applies.” Be sure to look at that case — it’s not listed in the Table of Authorities.

  4. Demo Rep

    Esp. ANY fill in the blank signs in July 1776 ??? —

    Hear the full text of the 4 July 1776 DOI at this time and place —

    8 PM ABC Bar and/or XYZ Church.

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