Arizona Free Speech

Salib v. City of Mesa
IJ Challenges Mesa, Arizona’s Sign Ordinance on Behalf of Doughnut Shop Owner

IJ Client Edward Salib wants nothing more than to communicate a truthful message to his customers concerning the pricing and availability of the products for sale in his shop.

In August 2002, a Mesa “code enforcement officer” forced Edward Salib to remove every one of his corporate-issued signs advertising the monthly specials, such as frozen mocha cappuccinos and a three-for-one doughnut special, from his Winchell’s Donut House’s windows.  A City ordinance prevents businesses in the downtown redevelopment area from covering more than 30 percent of any windowsill or pane area--an arbitrary percentage the City created by averaging similar ordinances in surrounding cities.

The City at first argued the ordinance was needed for public safety:  police needed to see inside businesses (a scary enough proposition for civil libertarians).  But then when the Institute for Justice Arizona Chapter (IJ-AZ) pointed out to the City that businesses are not required to have windows, that windows may be covered with blinds and shades or tinted to entirely block views, Mesa quickly shifted gears to say that the restriction is to protect aesthetics.

The IJ-AZ seeks to reinvigorate the Arizona Constitution’s protection of the free flow of commercial information that is essential to our free enterprise system.  With this litigation, we seek to firmly establish the broadest possible protection for speech of all kinds for all Arizonans.

Essential Background


Backgrounder: Vindicating Free Speech; Doughnut Entrepreneur Punches Holes In City of Mesa Sign Ordinance That Chills Speech

Client Photo

Client Video - none available

Latest Release: Institute for Justice Notifies Court of Appeals that Sale of Doughnut Shop Business Moots Free Speech Case (May 22, 2006)

Legal Briefs and Decisions

none available

Launch Release: Small Business Fights for Right to Free Speech (January 8, 2003)

Case Timeline

Filed Lawsuit:


January 8, 2003

Court Filed:  

Maricopa County Superior Court




Current Court:


Arizona Court of Appeals



case concluded

Next Key Date:  



Additional Releases

Maps, Charts and Facts

Release: Right to Speak Freely Suffers Setback: Arizona Superior Court Declines to Strike Down Mesa’s Arbitrary Sign Restrictions (April 26, 2004)

none available

Op-eds, News Articles and Links

Article: How Sweet It Is to Defend Free Speech, Liberty & Law (June 2005)

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