Reed v. Gilbert

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: First Amendment
  • Date Filed: July 1, 2014
  • Case #: 13-502
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Court Below: 707 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2013)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a town's sign code, limiting the amount of time when a sign may be posted, violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when the sign is used to announce religious services.

Petitioners believe the Bible instructs them to reach out and to make new disciples. Petitioners therefore placed signs in the area surrounding their place of worship in order to announce the time and location of Petitioners' religious services. Respondent then notified Petitioners that the signs were displayed past their town's statutory-limited time period and that Petitioners were violating the town's sign code.

Petitioners filed suit in federal court, alleging the town's sign code violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The District Court denied Petitioners' motion for an injunction, concluding that the town's sign code is a content-neutral regulation that does not violate either free speech or equal protection. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, highlighting the District Court's determination that the sign code regulates physical characteristics of a sign rather than speech.

The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether the town's sign code violates free speech and equal protection. Petitioners argue that the town's sign code subjects religious signs to greater regulation than other non-commercial signs. Petitioners ask that the Court reverses the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm the District Court's denial of Petitioners' motion.

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