Gilbert church fights city sign ordinance

A small Gilbert churches' fight over its road sign is being heard on the big stage.

The Supreme Court heard the case over whether the church should be able to use a directional sign, pointing people to it's services.

"I never dreamed my small church sign would be a topic for the supreme court," said Clyde Reed. Good News Community Church Pastor Clyde Reed, hoping for some good news after fighting to put up a temporary road sign, directing people to his Sunday services at a senior living facility in Gilbert. "We saw many different kinds of signs like political and real estate signs all over Gilbert all year long, so we didn't think it would be a problem to place church invitation signs."

But the town of Gilbert reportedly puts limits on the size of directional signs and the time they can remain in place while political signs can be bigger and remain in place longer.

"It decided political speech is more important than the churches invitation to their services, and we think that is certainly a problem," said attorney David Cortman.

The church says it is a free speech case; the town says they don't regulate based on viewpoint, but rather by the type of sign posted.

"I think the question for the justices today, and clearly they are struggling with is how you have certain discretion that's allowed to the cities and towns, states, and local governments in order to fashion rules that preserve beauty, reduce clutter, things that are not essential, but are valid and significant community interests. While at the same time accommodating the free speech rights that we all have whether it be religious or otherwise," said Phillip Saurin with the Town of Gilbert.

The church serves about 40 people. Church groups and the Obama administration are calling for the Supreme Court to rule against the town's ordinance. A ruling is expected by the end of June.
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