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Special Contribution


Three years have passed since the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated the Sign Code enacted by the Town of Gilbert, Arizona (the Town), and virtually every other sign ordinance enacted by local governments across the country. Reed v. Town of Gilbert arose when the Town determined that temporary signs advertising the place and time of the transient Sunday services conducted by the Good News Community Church (the Church), led by Pastor Clyde Reed, violated its Sign Code. The Church was cited for Sign Code violations, and the Church challenged the Sign Code on constitutional grounds in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona. The district court upheld the constitutionality of the Town's Sign Code on summary judgment, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Overruling the lower courts, the Supreme Court subjected the Town's Sign Code to strict scrutiny analysis and held that it violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution as an unconstitutional regulation of speech content. Instantly, every jurisdiction that had passed a sign ordinance learned that its regulations must pass constitutional muster under strict scrutiny analysis and that any sign regulation could be interpreted as content-based on its face.