Appeals court: Town can restrict funeral protests

Associated Press Modified: October 16, 2012 at 1:48 pm •  Published: October 16, 2012
Advertisement
;

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance aimed at preventing picketing by an anti-gay Kansas church, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a previous ruling by a three-judge panel of the court. The panel ruling last year prohibited the St. Louis County town of Manchester, Mo., from enforcing the law it drafted in response to activities by members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church.

A lawsuit claiming the Manchester ordinance violated the First Amendment right to free speech was filed by Shirley Phelps-Roper, a Westboro member and daughter of pastor Fred Phelps.

Members of the church frequently protest at funerals of soldiers with signs containing messages like "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Thank God for 9/11," claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

The Manchester ordinance allows for protest activities but with limitations. Among them: Protesters are not allowed within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service while it is occurring and for one hour before and one hour after.

Eighth Circuit Judge Diana Murphy wrote that the ordinance "survives First Amendment scrutiny because it serves a significant government interest, it is narrowly tailored, and it leaves open ample alternative channels for communication."

Judge Lavenski Smith agreed, though he wrote in a concurring opinion that the appeals court "is extending the circumference of what this circuit has previously found constitutes a significant government interest."

| |

Advertisement


Trending Now



AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    KOCO: Neighbors post 'no hooking zone' sign near 40th and S Robinson
  2. 2
    Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas City concert
  3. 3
    Barresi opposes bill to cut state testing in social studies
  4. 4
    Oklahoma basketball: Guard Je'lon Hornbeak to transfer
  5. 5
    Man re-arrested in Pakistan for cannibalism
+ show more