Judge: Westboro Protesters Free to Desecrate Flag

Federal court strikes down Nebraska law

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 3, 2010 7:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – A federal judge struck down Nebraska’s law against desecrating the flag yesterday, ruling that Westboro Baptist Church members were free to trample the flag as they protest at military funerals. Members of the infamous church often stomp on the flag, wear it, or wave it upside down at their demonstrations, the AP explains, and the judge said they were free to do so as long as they “otherwise act peacefully.”

Megan Phelps-Roper filed the federal lawsuit in July challenging the constitutionality of Nebraska's 1977 flag law, which bars "casting contempt or ridicule" upon a US or Nebraska flag by mutilating, defacing, burning, or trampling on it. State Attorney General Jon Bruning has acknowledged that the law is not consistent with Supreme Court rulings protecting flag desecration as a form of free speech, and has said he won’t fight to save the law, meaning the case is effectively closed.

This file photo from March 2, 2006, shows Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protesting in front of the Pennsylvania Statehouse in Harrisburg, Pa.
This file photo from March 2, 2006, shows Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., protesting in front of the Pennsylvania Statehouse in Harrisburg, Pa.   (AP Photo/Bradley C. Bower)
The Westboro Baptist Church likes to desecrate the US flag at its demonstrations.
The Westboro Baptist Church likes to desecrate the US flag at its demonstrations.   (Shutterstock)
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