Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Funeral Protest Law Invalidated

A federal judge in Missouri has invalidated provisions of a state law that limited demonstrations near funeral processions and ceremonies.  Story here:

The primary state law had barred protests near any church, cemetery or funeral establishment from an hour before until an hour after any funeral ceremony, procession or memorial service. The secondary measure specifically stated protesters must stay back at least 300 feet from ceremonies and processions. Both provisions levied the same penalty: up to six months in jail and a $500 fine for a first offense and up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for repeat offenders.

Gaitan concluded Missouri officials did not demonstrate the protest restrictions served a significant government interest nor that they had been narrowly tailored to prevent the harm of interruptions of funeral services. The judge wrote he was sympathetic to the argument that people attending a funeral deserve some protection, but he noted that the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had already rejected that argument.
The case is Phelps-Roper v. Koster.

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