U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Town Sign Ordinance that Hindered Free Speech

Montana and ten other states filed amicus brief asking the court to strike down Arizona ordinance

Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling and struck down a discriminatory Arizona town sign ordinance.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox applauded the ruling in Reed v. Town of Gilbert.

“The U.S. Supreme Court struck a blow for freedom of speech yesterday,” Fox said. “A majority of justices concluded that the Ninth Circuit was wrong to uphold an Arizona town’s sign ordinance discriminating against particular types of speech. Had the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, it would have had ramifications on free speech beyond Arizona and around the country, including right here in Montana. I commend the justices for taking a firm stand on one of our most cherished rights.”

Last September, Montana and 10 other states filed an amicus brief in the case asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld a sign ordinance passed by the Town of Gilbert, Arizona. The ordinance placed size limitations on signs put up by churches and non-profit entities, but did not impose such restrictions on other signs, including political signs.

The ordinance restricted signs promoting the events, meetings, or activities of non-profit groups, including local churches, while it broadly permitted any political or ideological signs. For example, political signs could be up to 32 square feet, displayed for many months, and unlimited in number. An ideological sign could likewise be up to 20 square feet, displayed indefinitely, and unlimited in number. A church’s or non-profit’s signs, however could only be 6 square feet, displayed for no more than 14 hours, and were limited to four per property.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is available online here.

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