Even thought I am an atheist I certainly think that churches should have the same First Amendment rights as everybody else!!!! Or perhaps better said think that churches should have the same free speech rights as everybody else!!
I wonder if they are shaking down this Presbyterian church because it isn't a Mormon church???? I think that Gilbert is a Mormon city, like it's neighbor Mesa
Supreme Court will hear Gilbert church-sign case
Parker Leavitt, The Republic | azcentral.com 7:30 a.m. MST July 2, 2014
Gilbert's prolonged legal battle with a small Presbyterian church over religious signs is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, with oral arguments likely to start later this year.
The court on Tuesday announced that it would hear Reed vs. Town of Gilbert, which alleges the town's sign code is discriminatory in preventing Good News Presbyterian Church from posting roadside signs the day before worship services.
Gilbert officials have argued — and courts have agreed — that the rules treat churches no differently than other non-commercial groups and that the signs are not regulated based on who posts them.
A three-member panel for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year sided with Gilbert, although the decision was not unanimous and one dissenting judge argued that the town's law is unconstitutional.
Gilbert's code prohibits non-commercial event signs, including the church signs advertising worship services, from going up more than 12 hours beforehand in public right-of-ways.
In contrast, political signs can be placed 60 days before an election. Ideological signs, which are meant to convey a non-commercial message or idea, can be posted in any zoning district and left up indefinitely. This could be a message touting world peace, for example.
Alliance Defending Freedom, representing Good News pastor Clyde Reed, last year asked the Supreme Court to clarify how judges should determine whether an ordinance discriminates based on content, citing disagreement among circuit courts on the issue.
The notion of content-neutral law could apply to a wide range of issues, including public events, for example. A law forbidding all parades down Main Street would be neutral, while a law that bans an immigration rally would not.
The Supreme Court typically grants 70 to 80 — or about 1 percent — of the 8,000 or so petitions it receives each year, Arizona State University law professor Paul Bender said.
Since the Gilbert case appears to involve a conflict among circuit courts, it's not surprising the Supreme Court agreed to take it on, Bender said.
"This is not a frivolous petition," Bender said. "It's a really important question that determines a lot of First Amendment cases."
The U.S. Supreme Court typically weighs in on issues with implications beyond an individual case, and the Gilbert dispute appears to fit that profile. At least four of the nine Supreme Court justices must agree to accept a petition before the court will hear a case.
Matt Sharp, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, cheered the court's decision to hear the case, saying it had been in limbo for months.
"I think this court has shown a strong desire to clarify these important issues regarding First Amendment rights," Sharp said.
Alliance Defending Freedom, based in Scottsdale, is a conservative organization launched in 1994. It litigates cases tied to religion, abortion and gay marriage. The group claims more than three dozen U.S. Supreme Court victories.
Good News Presbyterian Church's congregation consists of a few dozen members who meet weekly at a Gilbert senior-living center.
Gilbert's dispute with the church began in 2005, when the town's code-compliance department cited the church for posting signs too early in the public right of way.
The church responded by reducing the number of signs and the amount of time they were out, but Gilbert notified church officials again in 2007 that they were in violation.
Good News filed a lawsuit in March 2007 alleging that the code regulating signs discriminated against religious groups by violating free-speech rights.
Gilbert suspended the code while the case made its way through court, but that changed in 2008, when Gilbert adopted a sign-code amendment.
The changes allowed churches and other groups to post bigger signs, no limit on the number of signs and more time for them to be up. Town officials also lumped charitable, community-service, educational and other non-profits into the same category as churches for restrictions.
Gilbert Town Attorney Michael Hamblin said courts have rejected Alliance Defending Freedom's claims four times already and the town believes the Supreme Court will do the same.
U.S. Supreme Court cases from Arizona
Here's a look at some of the Arizona legal cases that have ended up at the nation's highest court.
S.B. 1070: Arizona v. United States
-- Ruling date: June 25, 2012
-- Summary: The U.S. Department of Justice challenged Arizona's controversial Senate Bill 1070, a law passed in 2010 that requires an officer to make an attempt to determine the immigration status of a person stopped, detained or arrested if there's reasonable suspicion the person is in the country illegally. The court upheld that provision but ruled unconstitutional three other portions of the law. One would have made it a state crime for an immigrant not to be carrying papers, a second allowed for warrant-less arrests in some situations and a third forbid an illegal immigrant from working in Arizona.
Defendant rights: Miranda v. Arizona
-- Ruling date: June 13, 1966
-- Summary: This was the landmark ruling that gave us the Miranda warning, in which officers inform suspects of their right to remain silent. The court ruled that prosecutors cannot use a suspect's statements unless steps have been taken to ensure Fifth Amendment rights, which protect against self-incrimination. Ernesto Miranda was one of several defendants named in the case. He had admitted to raping and kidnapping an 18-year-old woman. He was later retried and convicted.
Water rights: Arizona v. California
-- Ruling date: Original decision in 1931, several subsequent rulings, including in 1963, 1964 and 2000.
-- Summary: The Southwest's battle over Colorado River water rights has proven a frequent source of court battles, resulting in several Supreme Court rulings that have dictated how much water goes to California, Arizona and Nevada. The amount has been adjusted over the years.
Ring. v. Arizona
-- Ruling date: June 24, 2002
-- Summary: The ruling held that juries, not judges determine whether there are aggravating factors that qualify a convicted defendant for the death sentence.
Religious signs: Reed v. Town of Gilbert
-- Ruling date: Ongoing.
-- Summary: Good News Presbyterian Church in Gilbert alleges the town's sign code unfairly discriminates against the church, which wishes to place roadside signs directing people to its Sunday services. The town's code does not allow the signs to be placed in public right of ways more than 12 hours before the event. The Supreme Court oral argument is expected to begin in late 2014 or early 2015.