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ICC Note: The Supreme Court has reached a unanimous decision in favor of the Arizona church essentially forced to display their signs only at night. The law that was stuck down limited churches to displaying their temporary signs no more than 12 hours prior to their services and no more than 1 hour after they ended, leaving the churches to display their signs overnight. The case which initially started in 2008 finally reached a conclusion when the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional that this ordinance placed limitations on church and non-profit signs, but not political and ideological signs.

By Heather Clark

06/19/2015 United States (Christian News Network) – The U.S. Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favor of an Arizona church and against a local law that essentially forced 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.”

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