ICC Note: After filing a lawsuit in 2008 against a municipal law, Good News Community Church of Gilbert, Arizona is taking their case to the Supreme Court. The church was told that they could only display their temporary directional signs up to 12 hours prior to the service. Therefore, they would be putting their signs up at 9 pm at the earliest, severely limiting the number of people who would see the sign. This law was especially troublesome due to the fact that political and ideological signs have no similar regulations that they must follow. Good News Community Church is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom.
By Heather Clark
07/09/2014 United States (Christian News Network) – The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to a municipal law in Arizona that indirectly forces churches to display their signs at night, while allowing other types of signs to be displayed 24/7.
As previously reported, in 2008, Good News Community Church of Gilbert filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to obtain an injunction against the city’s sign ordinance, which prohibited entities from displaying temporary directional signs on the public ways more than 12 hours before services and more than 1 hour afterward.
The church had found itself in disputes with the city prior to filing the suit, as officials claimed that members were displaying too many signs and was leaving them up for too long. A directional sign is a sign with an arrow, pointing traffic to a particular event or location.
Few time limitations are placed on political signs, and none at all on ideological signs—that is, a sign with a general message regarding a particular issue or subject matter. Therefore, the church advised the court that the ordinance is unbalanced and overly-burdened its desire to advertise its services out of the Bible’s command to “make disciples of all nations.”
During the initial proceedings in 2009, the district court refused to grant the injunction, seeing no problem with the requirement. The case then escalated to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled that there was no constitutional infirmity with the ordinance because it is “a content-neutral regulation” and “does not impermissibly favor commercial speech over noncommercial speech.”