06/18/2015 10:49 am ET

Supreme Court Rules For Church In Free Speech Case Over Signs

MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

WASHINGTON, June 18 (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that a town in Arizona violated a local church's free speech rights by preventing it from posting signs notifying the public of its worship services.

The court, on a unanimous 9-0 vote, ruled in favor of Good News Community Church, which objected to its treatment by town officials in Gilbert, Arizona.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote on behalf of the court that the town's sign ordinance violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment, which protects free speech rights, because it favored certain forms of speech over others.

The church's leader, Pastor Clyde Reed, challenged the town's 2008 sign ordinance, which has different categories based on content that determine the size of the sign, where it can be placed and how long it can be displayed.

The church's signs were deemed to be event signs, which meant they received "far worse treatment" than other types, including those displaying political and ideological messages, its lawyers said.

A new, less restrictive ordinance was enacted in 2011.

The case is Reed v. Gilbert, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 13-502. (Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)


Supreme Court Justices Get Out Of The Office