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Court to hear church's appeal of sign restrictions

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will decide whether an Arizona town violates the First Amendment by restricting where and when a church can place signs advertising Sunday morning services.

The justices said Tuesday they will hear an appeal from the Good News Community Church. The church argues that the town of Gilbert, Arizona, applies stricter rules to church signs than to other types of non-commercial signs.

Town officials say church signs must be six feet square and can be displayed in public areas only 14 hours before each event. But political or ideological signs can be larger and may be displayed for months.

A federal court ruled the town code was allowed to have different rules for various categories of non-commercial speech, as long as they were not based on the content of the speech. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Justices will hear arguments in the fall.

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