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Judge Strikes Down Missouri Ban on Protests at Military Funerals

5 years ago
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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.

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Is there a difference between protest and deliberate provacation? These "protesters" beleive that psychological and emotional abuse for the grieving is the best way to have their msg. heard. The grieving have no rights to protect their selves from this? Where are the gay rights advocates on this? Why is this of no interest to the gay rights advocates? They have no interest in standing up for the soldiers that are defending their freedom and rights in this country. This cult is punishing the dead soldiers families for the U.S. tolerating gays.

August 29 2010 at 6:08 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Our church recently took "Baptist" out of it's name because of groups like this one. It is so sad that people choose to be so insensitive to others who are in pain. Christ called us to reach out to those who are hurting, not make their pain worse.

August 21 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Isn't this a great country? This "so called" church is using their constitutional RIGHT to free speech to protest at a funeral of the SOLDERS THAT FOUGHT AND DIED FOR THIS FREEDOM! IF this is what is called a church of God, no wonder why people are turning away from church and God. Maybe we need a protest in front of the church on Sundays...

August 20 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ladydobermann's comment

Really, and do it so loud that their hate cant be heard!

August 29 2010 at 9:52 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Ms. Pam

It is their right to free speech, but it is a disgust and an insult to those who have died serving our country. Those Westboro pigs have no honor.

August 19 2010 at 11:48 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Laws that protect others from being harassed or annoyed have been on the books forever. Why is this group allowed special considerations? Anti-military lefitst judge, maybe? And I thought 'judges' are not suppose to legislate from the bench. HA! Life time appointments? We need a term limit on them too. Let's hope some real patriots take matters into our own hands the next time that bunch of nitwits show up at a funeral.

August 18 2010 at 11:21 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

I have a son in the military who served in Afghanistan. Thank God he came back safely. However, if he had been killed while fighting for our freedom and people from the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrated at his funeral, then all i have to say is God help them because there would be severe repercussions for their insensitivity.

August 18 2010 at 10:12 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply

Liberal judges have a problem distinguishing between what is marginally legal and what is totally right and making the appropriate decision.

August 17 2010 at 9:41 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

Protesting at a funeral may be legal, but it is disrespectful and I find it to be unacceptable. Find out who the protesters are, where they live and where they work. Protest their actions outside their homes and their places of business. The first amendment will protect our right to do this, won't it?

August 17 2010 at 6:52 PM Report abuse +19 rate up rate down Reply

So does someone have the right to yell racial slurs at all times of night on my front doorstep? Where does it end? You can protest but do you get to do so in a way that infringes on the rights of others? I may not be able to yell fire in a crowded theater but if I stand RIGHT OUTSIDE the theater and my statement is audible doesn't if have the same effect?

August 17 2010 at 5:15 PM Report abuse +14 rate up rate down Reply

Obviously another Clinton appointee.

August 17 2010 at 5:11 PM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dandyleonard's comment

Actually he was appointed by George Bush,probably an oversight on your part I'm sure.

August 17 2010 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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