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Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Poulin+Morris
Photo Courtesy of DCL (Fabricator), Design by Poulin+Morris

Four years since Reed – More changes to come?

Posted: 06/18/2019


Four years ago today, the landmark Reed v. Town of Gilbert case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. This was the first case dealing specifically with sign regulations in over two decades! The unanimous ruling affirmed that sign regulations cannot be content-based, and since forced thousands of communities across America to revise their local ordinances to make sure they don't violate the First Amendment rights of sign users.

In the four years since Reed, ISA Advocacy has educated thousands of planners on the legal issues involved with sign codes through webinars, workshops, and resources, including those developed by the Sign Research Foundation (SRF). Find these resources here.

The Reed decision enabled ISA to build upon its reputation as the resource for local officials who draft and enforce sign regulations. When ISA Advocacy helps communities comply with the Reed decision, it opens up opportunities to provide guidance on more traditional sign code issues, such as electronic signs and size restrictions.

Yet, there is still work to be done. Many cities, towns and villages have still not updated their sign regulations to make sure they’re content-neutral. This means that ISA's Advocacy team will continue to offer sign code guidance to the local officials who regulate signs, so that these communities develop local regulations that allow the sign industry to protect and grow their business.

And in some ways, Reed has raised more questions than provided clarity, with the 2015 decision spawning other issues in state and lower federal courts. ISA is closely monitoring these cases, which could significantly change the way signs are regulated and the way that the sign industry does business!

Visit ISA’s page on Reed v. Town of Gilbert, for more information on the Reed case and ISA's work to date.