Revised sign policy in Arizona town fails to remove unconstitutional discrimination

Town of Gilbert amends sign code but perpetuates discrimination against churches; ADF amends lawsuit on behalf of church
Thursday, January 10, 2008

PHOENIX — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund amended their lawsuit against the town of Gilbert Wednesday on behalf of a church after the city amended its sign code in a way that did not fix any of the code’s constitutional flaws. After initially agreeing not to enforce the provisions of its code that discriminated against churches, the city amended its code Tuesday but retained the same discriminatory treatment.

“Churches shouldn’t be discriminated against simply because they are churches. The First Amendment requires the town to treat church signs the same as similar nonreligious signs, which the town’s amended code does not do,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman.

In May 2007, in response to an ADF lawsuit filed on behalf of Good News Presbyterian Church, the town of Gilbert agreed to a preliminary injunction prohibiting it from enforcing its sign code against the church, which required church signs to be smaller in size, fewer in number, and displayed for much less time than similar non-religious signs. On Tuesday, the town passed an amended code, which continues to treat religious signs far less favorably than similar commercial and noncommercial signs.

In addition to the amended complaint, ADF attorneys filed a new motion for preliminary injunction to block implementation of the amended code while the lawsuit moves forward in court.

“This is a clear example of unconstitutional discrimination,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “The town’s amended code continues to restrict the First Amendment rights of churches. That is why we’re amending the complaint and moving forward with the lawsuit.”

A copy of the amended complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, Phoenix Division, in Reed v. Town of Gilbert can be read at

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