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Protecting Small Businesses’ Free Speech Rights

Covers Plus, et al. v. City of Chandler

Case Status

Date Filed

August 15, 2016

Last Step

Court ordered Chandler to stop enforcing the sign code.

Next Step

Await Chandler’s revision to their sign code.

Case Overview


Advertising is crucial for small business. In fact, it’s more important for them than for large, well-known companies that can rely on their established reputations. But entrepreneurs wishing to tell the public about new products or services often run into problems when local ordinances censor their efforts to communicate. In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such restrictions unconstitutional, and struck down a confusing set of restrictions imposed on signs in the town of Gilbert, Arizona. But many cities across the country continue to threaten small business owners with fines and even jail time for putting up a “For Lease” sign or a banner offering free meals to veterans.

The City of Chandler—right next door to Gilbert— imposes different rules for signs based on what they say, and who is saying it, in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court’s Town of Gilbert ruling. Chandler’s sign code forbids some signs, requires permits for others, and allows still others without any permit—all depending on what signs say. The code divides signs up into 11 different categories based on the messages they convey, and imposes different size and location requirements to the different categories. Thus no permit is required for “political signs,” “grand opening signs,” or “residential real estate” signs, but a permit is required for “development signs,” “subdivision direction signs,” and “non-residential real estate signs.”

The Goldwater Institute has filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Chandler Sign Code.  Our goal is to vindicate two of the most venerated rights protected by the constitutions of Arizona and the United States: the rights to free speech and to equal protection of the laws.

Case Logistics


Four property owners: North Park Plaza, LLC, Pollack Business Park North, LLC, Putz, LLC, and University Central Center, LLC, who own commercial shopping centers in the City of Chandler, and a small business, Covers Plus, which is a tenant of one of the property owner plaintiffs


The City of Chandler


Maricopa County Superior Court



Relief sought

Declaratory and injunctive relief

Case Documents

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