Reed v. Town of Gilbert Case Brief

Facts of the case

Clyde Reed, pastor of Good News Community Church (Good News), rented space at an elementary school in Gilbert, Arizona, and placed about 17 signs in the area announcing the time and location of Good News’ services. Gilbert has an ordinance (Sign Code) that restricts the size, number, duration, and location of certain types of signs, including temporary directional ones, to prevent improper signage. After Good News received an advisory notice from Gilbert that it violated the Sign Code, Good News sued Gilbert and claimed that the Sign Code violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.The district court found that the Sign Code was constitutional since it was content-neutral and was reasonable in light of the government interests. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed and held that, even though an official would have to read a sign to determine what provisions of the Sign Code applied, the restrictions were not based on the content of the signs, and the Sign Code left open other channels of communication.


The provisions of Gilbert, Ariz., Land Development Code, ch. 1, § 4.402 (2005) were content-based regulations of speech because the restrictions in the sign code that applied to any given sign depended entirely on the communicative content of the sign. The provisions could not survive First Amendment strict scrutiny because respondent town could not claim that placing strict limits on temporary directional signs was necessary to beautify the town while at the same time allowing unlimited numbers of other types of signs that created the same problem. Moreover, respondent had not shown that limiting temporary directional signs was necessary to eliminate threats to traffic safety, but that limiting other types of signs was not.

  • Advocates: Eric J. Feigin for the United States as amicus curiae Philip W. Savrin for the respondents David A Cortman on behalf of petitioners
  • Petitioner: Clyde Reed, et al.
  • Respondent: Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al.
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: Good News Community Church
Citation: 576 US _ (2015)
Granted: Jul 1, 2014
Argued: Jan 12, 2015
Decided: Jun 18, 2015
Reed v. Town of Gilbert Case Brief