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Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP For Immediate Release:
Contact: Philip W. Savrin January 20, 2015
Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP Partner Argues to the United States Supreme Court
Atlanta, GA. Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP partner, Philip W. Savrin, argued in front of the United States Supreme Court today, assisted by firm members Dana K. Maine and William H. Buechner. The case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, involves a significant First Amendment issue regarding a government’s ability to regulate signage within its jurisdiction. Mr. Savrin represents the Town of Gilbert, Arizona in this matter brought by a local church, Good News Community Church. The church is being represented by the Alliance for Defending Freedom which explains on its website that its mission as “an alliance-building legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.”
The church claimed the town’s regulation of qualifying event signs violated its First Amendment rights because there were more lenient standards for other types of signs. The church maintains that the qualifying event signs both invite people to its services and guide travelers to the location of the services. Because of the directional component, the town treated the church’s signs as qualifying event signs instead of invitation signs. Qualifying event signs must be smaller and must be removed shortly after the service has ended. The town’s regulations allow invitation signs (regulated as “ideological signs”) to be larger and have no time regulation. Nothing prevents the church from putting up an ideological sign, but the church has chosen to go the litigation route instead.
According to Mr. Savrin, “the questioning was very lively and clearly the justices are struggling with the parameters of the First Amendment for all regulations, including signs, parades, and demonstrations. However they rule, clarity is much needed in this area of the law.”
A decision is expected by June.