Citing free speech concerns, a federal judge on Monday struck down Missouri's restrictions on protests outside military funerals, CNN reports
Westboro Baptist Church
had brought suit over its claimed right to march outside the burials and memorial services of those killed in overseas conflicts after the Missouri legislature passed a law to keep protesters from demonstrating within 300 feet of private services.
Judge Fernando Gaitan tossed the legislation Monday, saying the law "could have the effect of criminalizing speech the mourners want to hear, including speech from counter-protesters."
The Supreme Court last year had granted a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of the law until it could be challenged. The justices will hear a similar challenge this fall involving the same church, which is based in Topeka, Kan.
Westboro church members, led by pastor Fred Phelps, picket the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan with signs reading "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" -- because they believe that as long as America countenances sin, American soldiers deserve to die.