Supreme Court Hands Victory to Houses of Worship


Religious freedom advocates are hailing a Supreme Court decision issued Thursday as a victory for freedom of speech and houses of worship across the country.

The court unanimously ruled in favor of an Arizona church in a dispute over a town's sign law.

The law in Gilbert, Arizona, set tougher rules for signs that direct people to Sunday church services than for signs for political candidates and real estate agents.

The Good News Community Church complained that the law forced the church to put up smaller signs -- less than half the size -- than others.

The church's signs also could be in place for only 14 hours at a time, while others could remain up for months.

Lower federal courts upheld the town's sign ordinance, saying that the distinction it drew between different kinds of temporary signs was not based on what a sign said.

Alliance Defending Freedom represented the Good News Community Church and Pastor Clyde Reed in its suit. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed a friend-of-the-court brief.

"Gilbert had taken a page from George Orwell's Animal Farm, saying that all citizens were equal, but that politicians were 'more equal' than everyone else," Eric Rassbach, deputy general counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said. "The Supreme Court rightly decided that churches and other religious speakers should not be treated like second-class citizens."

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