The US Supreme Court has upheld the right of a church to display signs advertising its services.
In a 9-0 vote, the judges decided that town officials had breached the constitution’s First Amendment by discriminating against the content of signs displayed by Good News Community Church in Arizona.
The church’s leader, Pastor Clyde Reed, first challenged the policy in 2007 as it allowed an unlimited number of political signs to be displayed for many months, but restricted church signs to 14 hours on display and limited them to four per property.
One of the judges, Justice Clarence Thomas, wrote on behalf of the court that the policy violated the First Amendment, which protects free speech, because it gave preference to certain forms of speech.
The church was supported by religious liberty organisation Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
ADF senior lawyer David Cortman said: “The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling is a victory for everyone’s freedom of speech.”
“Speech discrimination is wrong regardless of whether the government intended to violate the First Amendment or not, and it doesn’t matter if the government thinks its discrimination was well-intended”, he added.
The US Supreme Court has been making a number of high-profile rulings recently, and is set to decide on redefining marriage in the next few weeks.