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Local Small Businesses Work Tirelessly to Help City of Chandler Rewrite its Sign Code

September 13, 2017

Phoenix—Small businesses in Chandler, Arizona will no longer face unconstitutional restrictions on the way they communicate with their customers, thanks to a Goldwater Institute lawsuit.

The City of Chandler has rewritten its unconstitutional sign code in response to a First Amendment lawsuit brought by three local businesses. Because the revisions to the code address nearly all of the problems identified in the lawsuit, the businesses, which were represented by the Goldwater Institute, have agreed to settle out of court and voluntarily dismiss the case.

Chandler had a sign code that imposed different rules for signs based on what they said and who was saying it, in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Reed v. Town of Gilbert. Chandler’s sign code forbid some signs, required permits for others, and allowed still others without any permit—all depending on what those signs said. The code divided signs up into 11 different categories based on the messages they conveyed, and imposed different size and location requirements on the different categories. Thus, no permit was required for “political signs,” “grand opening signs,” or “residential real estate” signs, but a permit was required for “development signs,” “subdivision direction signs,” and “non-residential real estate signs.”

The Goldwater Institute therefore filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Chandler sign code on behalf of three local businesses. The goal was 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 under the law. The revisions to the sign code address most of the plaintiffs’ concerns and will enable them to exercise their right to speak freely, meaningfully, and responsibly.

“Chandler’s sign code was in direct violation of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling,” Adi Dynar, an attorney at the Goldwater Institute and lead attorney in the case, said. “In fact, numerous cities in Arizona and across the country continue to violate the Reed decision with outdated sign codes that discriminate based on the message the business is communicating.”

“This result would not have been possible without people like Mr. Michael Pollack and Mr. Robert Schure, who stood up to protect the Constitution and worked tirelessly to ensure that the City of Chandler does not violate people’s right to speak freely,” Dynar continued. “We are glad that Chandler has amended its sign code, but should the City go back on its promises to follow the First Amendment, the Goldwater Institute will be back in court to defend the free speech rights of small businesses. We hope that other cities will update their codes.”


About the Goldwater Institute

The Goldwater Institute drives results by working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and strengthen the freedom guaranteed to all Americans in the constitutions of the United States and all 50 states. With the blessing of its namesake, the Goldwater Institute opened in 1988. Its early years focused on defending liberty in Barry Goldwater’s home state of Arizona. Today, the Goldwater Institute is a national leader for constitutionally limited government respected by the left and right for its adherence to principle and real world impact. No less a liberal icon than the New York Times calls the Goldwater Institute a “watchdog for conservative ideals” that plays an “outsize role” in American political life.



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