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GILBERT, Ariz. -- A Christian legal group is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether Gilbert's sign ordinance is constitutional.

The group, Alliance Defending Freedom, claims Gilbert's sign ordinance violates the First Amendment. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco said rules for church signs are not the same as political or other signs in Gilbert.

"Political signs can be up to 32-square-feet, but church's signs can only 6-square-feet," he said. "Political signs can be unlimited in number, while church signs can only be four per property."

The group represents the Good News Presbyterian church, which meets in an elementary school. It claims the ordinance makes its signs ineffective in attracting people to the church because, while political signs can stand for 60 days, signs advertising church services can only be up for 12 hours.

"The church has a 9 a.m. service," said Tedesco, adding that the sign could not be displayed until 9 p.m. the night before. "You know how dark it is in Arizona at 9 o'clock at night. That means no one could see the sign until 7 o'clock in the morning."

The city contends that the sign regulations for churches are the same as those for other non-commercial groups.

The ordinance has already been upheld by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but that is not deterring Tedesco.

"We think they've got it wrong," he said, referring to the appeals court. "There's certainly a lot of authority in other courts across the country that shows that they did get it wrong, and we certainly hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will step in to rectify the situation."

Tedesco said it could take until the end of the year before the Supreme Court makes a decision on whether to hear the case.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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