Court Lets Missouri Town Restrict Westboro Protests

Federal appeals decision says limits don't violate free-speech rights

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Oct 16, 2012 2:25 PM CDT

(Newser) – A St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance aimed at preventing pickets from the notorious Westboro Baptist Church, a federal appeals court ruled today. The Manchester ordinance allows for protest activities but with limitations—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.

Westoboro called that a violation of free speech, but 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." ACLU lawyers representing the church might appeal. Westboro members frequently protest at funerals of soldiers with signs containing messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers," claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Westboro Baptist Church member Jacob Phelps of Topeka, Kan., holds signs as people engage him in front of the Supreme Court in Washington in 2010.
Westboro Baptist Church member Jacob Phelps of Topeka, Kan., holds signs as people engage him in front of the Supreme Court in Washington in 2010.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
« Prev« Prev | Next »Next » Slideshow
My TakeCLICK BELOW TO VOTE
2%
3%
4%
7%
80%
4%
To report an error on this story, notify our editors.

NEWS FROM OUR PARTNERS
Other Sites We Like:   The Street   |   MSN Living   |   PopSugar Tech   |   RealClear   |   24/7 Wall St.   |   Biography   |   Barstool Sports   |   OK!