A panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against religious freedom Friday when it allowed the Town of Gilbert to infringe up on the First Amendment rights of Good News Presbyterian Church.
Judge Paul Watford, in his dissent, said the sign ordinance is unconstitutional because it favors political and ideological signs over signs promoting events, like those the church used:
“Gilbert’s sign ordinance violates the First and 14th amendments by drawing content-based distinctions among different categories of non-commercial speech.”
The church’s attorney is considering whether or not to file an appeal.
Rev. Clyde Reed said, “We thought we had a solid case, but the 9th Circuit said it wasn’t solid enough.”
The right reverend was being kind to the court. Everyone knows the “9th Circus” is a major player in the left-wing transformation of the western part of the nation. This court is never going to issue a fair ruling on any social issues, such as the sanctity of life, marriage, or religious freedom. It’s a biased court, and that’s why it is also the most overturned appeals court in America.
Good News Presbyterian’s fight with the town started eight years ago when Gilbert officials told the church it was posting signs advertising worship services in public rights of way too early. The church tried to accommodate the city, but the city refused to be satisfied.
The church filed a lawsuit in 2008 and said its First and 14th amendment rights were being violated.
Watford agreed, but the other two judges on the panel said the “restrictions are based on objective factors relevant to the creation of the specific exemption and do not otherwise consider the substance of a sign.” As such, the law is constitutional, they wrote.
In 2009, the 9th Circus upheld a lower court decision against the church’s request for an injunction to block enforcement of the ordinance. The Appeals Court sent the case back to the local court so it could weight constitutional considerations in the case. The district court upheld its earlier ruling, as did the 9th Circus Friday.
Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the church, and from Alliance Defending Freedom, said: “To us, it’s a very simple case of content-based discrimination.”