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Case

Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The ability of the government to censor religious speech
  • The ability of the government to choose to value one type of speech over another
  • The freedom of churches to place signs inviting people to their services and activities on equal terms with other non-commercial signs

Summary

Good News Community Church, led by Pastor Clyde Reed, is a small church in Gilbert, Arizona. Because it meets in temporary locations, the church depends on the use of small, temporary signs to invite and direct the community to its services.

The Town of Gilbert, however, severely restricted signs in terms of their size and time of display, while permitting a wide array of other signs with much more lenient guidelines In fact, to comply with Gilbert's sign code, Pastor Reed was forced to put signs up well after the sun was down, and leave swiftly after the service's conclusion to take the signs down. A failure to comply could lead to fines or jail time.

ADF represented Pastor Reed at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case argued by Senior Counsel David Cortman. The Court ruled 9-0 in favor of Pastor Reed, setting a powerful precedent when it held that Gilbert's sign code violated free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.


This victory protects the right of some 350,000 congregations throughout the country to offer a message of hope to their communities—and set a precedent that can be used to defend all types of speech, from passing out flyers to speaking in public. This decision is even being used to challenge unconstitutional speech zones on college campuses, and to defend the rights of Christians to speak in the public square on the same terms as everyone else.

 

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Church and Pastor Reed in defense of their rights to free speech and free exercise of religion. 

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
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Family Research Council", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-family-research-council.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:29 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "U.S. Supreme Court opinion", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---u-s-supreme-court-opinion.pdf", "Date": "6/18/15 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Ashutosh Bhagwat, Eric Freedman, Richard Garnett, Seth Kreimer, Nadine Strossen, William Van Alstyne, James Weinstein", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-ashutosh-bhagwat-eric-freedman-richard-garnett-seth-kreimer-nadine-strossen-william-van-alstyne-james-weinstein.pdf", "Date": "11/19/2013 8:14:29 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Robert Wilson, Kelly Kickinson, Jim Roos, Kim Houghton, Bill Main, Tonia Edwards, Candace Kagan, Mary Lacoste, Joycelyn Cole, Annette Watt", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-robert-wilson-kelly-kickinson-jim-roos-kim-houghton-bill-main-tonia-edwards-candace-kagan-mary-lacoste-joycelyn-cole-annette-watt.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - United States", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-united-states.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petition for writ of certiorari", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petition-for-writ-of-certiorari.pdf", "Date": "10/21/13 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Reply brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court in support of granting writ of certiorari", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---reply-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court-in-support-of-granting-writ-of-certiorari.pdf", "Date": "3/5/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-the-becket-fund-for-religious-liberty.pdf", "Date": "9/20/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "U.S. Supreme Court oral argument transcript", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---u-s-supreme-court-oral-argument-transcript.pdf", "Date": "1/12/15 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Amended complaint", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amended-complaint.pdf", "Date": "1/10/2008 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief--general-conference-of-seventh-day-adventists.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:29 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petitioners' opening brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petitioners'-opening-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court.pdf", "Date": "9/15/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Missouri Baptist Convention Christian Life Commission", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-missouri-baptist-convention-christian-life-commission.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "TrialCourt", "Title": "Stipulated preliminary injunction order", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---stipulated-preliminary-injunction-order.pdf", "Date": "5/7/2007 8:14:31 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Petitioners' reply brief filed with U.S. Supreme Court", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petitioners'-reply-brief-filed-with-u-s-supreme-court.pdf", "Date": "12/15/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "Petition for review en banc", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---petition-for-review-en-banc.pdf", "Date": "2/22/13 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Christian Legal Society and Others", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-christian-legal-society-and-others.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:29 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - American Center for Law and Justice", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-american-center-for-law-and-justice.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:29 PM"}, {"Court": "AppellateCourt", "Title": "9th Circuit opinion on preliminary injunction", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---9th-circuit-opinion-on-preliminary-injunction.pdf", "Date": "11/20/2009 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - WV, GA, KS, MI, MT, NE, OK, SC, TX, UT", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-wv-ga-ks-mi-mt-ne-ok-sc-tx-ut.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:30 PM"}, {"Court": "SupremeCourt", "Title": "Amicus brief - Justice and Freedom Fund", "FileName": "https://adflegal.blob.core.windows.net/mainsite-new/docs/default-source/documents/legal-documents/reed-v.-town-of-gilbert/reed-v-town-of-gilbert---amicus-brief-justice-and-freedom-fund.pdf", "Date": "9/22/14 8:14:29 PM"}]}

Biographies

Jeremy Tedesco

Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Advocacy and Administration

Jeremy Tedesco serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. Advocacy and Administration for Alliance Defending Freedom.

David A. Cortman

Senior Counsel, Vice President of U.S. Litigation

David A. Cortman serves as senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with Alliance Defending Freedom.


Additional Resources

 

David Cortman: An important blow for free speech (National Review, 2015-06-23)

Jeremy Tedesco: Little church, little signs, big decision (Arizona Republic, 2015-06-22)

SCOTUSblog docket page: Reed v. Town of Gilbert

Video: Supreme Court: Govt cannot judge speech based on how 'worthy' it is.

 
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