In a landmark, unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision, Pastor Clyde Reed and his congregation get to keep their signs! The Gilbert, Arizona resident installed temporary yard signs, directing parishioners to his service. Over the years, his small congregation met in various locations due to a lack of funding for a permanent worshipping area. However, the Town of Gilbert didn’t really appreciate his use of signage, saying the signs violated several town laws. Signs, according to the town, cannot be placed earlier than 12 hours prior to the service, and must be removed one hour after the service ends. In addition, the town’s attorney argued that the signs did not meet the standard regulation size of no more than 6 square feet.
Reed’s lawyers argued that political signs are generally larger than the signs that Reed was using and are left in place for a substantially longer time. The Justices seemed to agree. Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said “The First Amendment… prohibits enactment of laws ‘abridging the freedom of speech. Under that clause, a government, including a municipal government vested with state authority has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content.” In other words, regulation of sign placement based on content is a violation of the First Amendment that permits freedom of speech and religion.
All that is to say, this Supreme Court decision is good news for us here at Signs.com, and quite frankly, good news for our customers. These small church signs carried quite a bit of constitutional weight. For our customers, it means they can easily display signs without fear of government oversight. For us, this ruling makes it possible to produce signs for our customers that they can actually use without fear of being singled out for unnecessary regulation based on the content of their signs.