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Decision by Supreme Court May Impact Local Sign Regulations

July 27, 2015

Recently, in Reed, et al. v. Town of Gilbert, Arizona, et al., (No. 13-502), the United States Supreme Court ruled that sign ordinance provisions which regulate temporary signs based on the type of information conveyed are not permissible under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Reed, the town of Gilbert, Arizona, imposed time limitations and other requirements on different categories of temporary signage by ordinance. Under Gilbert's ordinance, differing regulations applied to each sign category (directional, political and ideological). After reviewing the ordinance, the Supreme Court determined that the provisions are content-based regulations of speech because the distinctions between the categories were based on a sign's message. As such, the Supreme Court held that the regulations depended entirely on each sign's communicative content and are unconstitutional.

In light of the Reed decision, it is important for municipalities to review their sign ordinances to determine if regulations differentiate between signs based upon the message conveyed. If so, such ordinance provisions should be carefully reviewed for possible amendment to minimize the risk of legal challenge.

If you have any questions regarding any of the above information, please contact your Clark Hill Municipal or Education Law attorney.

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