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SCOTUS will hear free speech case from Gilbert

PHOENIX — The leaders of a small church in Gilbert will make their case to the Supreme Court.

Town leaders have banned Good News Presbyterian Church from posting religious roadside signs the day before they host worship services.

The church is being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal ministry. Matt Sharp, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said town leaders are violating the free speech of the Good News Presbyterian congregation and leaders.

“You can’t subject religious speech to more restrictions than are imposed upon other types of speech,” Sharp said.

Town code prevents non-commercial event signs from being posted for more than 12 hours before an event, while political signs can be posted for 60 days before an election.

Sharp said the church’s signs fall under the non-commercial event category. He thinks the town’s government is overstepping its bounds and playing favorites.

“You can pick and choose what types of signs and speech that you prefer and then give those ones favorable treatment,” he said.

The Supreme Court is expected to hear the case by the end of 2014.