Supreme Court to Consider Keeping Anti-Christian Sign Ordinance that Illegally Discriminates
The New York Times Reports:
In 1996, a young professor named Elena Kagan published an article in The University of Chicago Law Review. It sketched a way to make sense of the Supreme Court's approach to the First Amendment.
The new case is about a municipal ordinance in Gilbert, Ariz., that regulates temporary signs, including those that support political candidates and direct people to events like church services.
The political signs can be as large as 32 square feet, can stay in place for months and are generally unlimited in number. The ones announcing church services and similar events can be no larger than six square feet, can be displayed right before and after the events, and must be limited to four per property.
In its brief defending the ordinance, the Town of Gilbert said that "the content-neutrality test should be applied flexibly." The ordinance concerned safety and aesthetics, the town said, and there was no evidence that Gilbert had sought to censor particular viewpoints or ideas. Indeed, the brief said, the town treated directional signs the same way whether they included religious messages or not.
"That is the one case," she said, "where I just don't know, I just don't know, if that's right."
A year after the video games case, her approach to the First Amendment seemed to have shifted. She voted with the majority in a 6-to-3 decision that struck down a federal law making it a crime to lie about having received military decorations.
The most recent case, Reed v. Town of Gilbert, No.13-502, will be argued next Monday. Justice Kagan is likely to ask incisive questions, as she is an expert in the issue at its core.
She may also provide some hints about whether her influential article continues to influence its author.