Legal News

Funeral Protest Ordinance Ruled Legal by Appeals Court
Download PDF
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court ruled that a suburb of St. Louis is permitted to enforce a funeral protest ordinance that prevents picketing by an anti-gay church from Kansas. The ruling, issued by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, reversed a ruling by a panel of three judges from the same court.

The ruling issued last year prevented the town of Manchester, Missouri from enforcing its law that was created in response to activities by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Topeka, Kansas. Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of Westboro Baptist Church and the daughter of pastor Fred Phelps, filed a lawsuit that claimed the ordinance in Manchester violated the right to free speech in the First Amendment.

  
What
Where


Church members protest at the funerals of soldiers while holding signs that say “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “Thank God for 9/11.” The church claims that the soldiers’ deaths are punishment from God for immorality and tolerance of abortion and homosexuality in the United States.

The ordinance in Manchester permits protests but limits the activities that can take place. One of the limitations is that the protestors are not allowed to be within 300 feet of a funeral or a burial service while it is taking place and for one hour prior to it or one hour after it concludes. In the ruling, 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.”

In the concurring opinion, Judge Lavenski Smith agreed but also wrote that the appeals court “is extending the circumference of what this circuit has previously found constitutes a significant government interest.”

Get JD Journal in Your Mail

Subscribe to our FREE daily news alerts and get the latest updates on the most happening events in the legal, business, and celebrity world. You also get your daily dose of humor and entertainment!!




Patrick Gunn, the City Attorney for Manchester, said that the law was created to mimic a law in Ohio that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. “We were confident that eventually our ordinance was not in any way unconstitutional or overimposing on a person’s right to exercise free speech,” Gunn said.

An attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, Tony Rothert, represented Phelps-Roper and said that a decision for an appeal has yet to be made. “We think it’s a slippery slope not justified by the First Amendment or Supreme Court precedent,” Rothert said. “Ultimately that’s probably an issue for the Supreme Court to decide.”



The ordinance in Manchester was created in 2007 and members of Westboro have yet to protest a burial or funeral in the town. A spokesman for Westboro Baptist Church, Steve Drain, said, “It won’t have any impact,” Drain said. “We’re not interested in breaking any laws, we’re interested in preaching the word of God to a doomed nation.”



 

Interesting Legal Sites You May Like


BCG FEATURED JOB

Locations:

Keyword:



Search Now

Corporate, Mergers and Acquisitions and Securities Associate Attorney

USA-NY-New York City

New York City office of our client seeks corporate, mergers and acquisitions and securities associat...

Apply Now

Business Litigation Attorney

USA-CA-Santa Monica

Santa Monica office of our client seeks business litigation attorney with 1-3 years of experience. T...

Apply Now

Intellectual Property Litigation / Enforcement Associate Attorney

USA-CA-San Francisco

San Francisco office of our client seeks intellectual property litigation / enforcement associate at...

Apply Now

Eminent Domain Attorney

USA-TX-Richmond

Richmond office of our client seeks eminent domain attorney with 5+ years of experience. The candida...

Apply Now

RELEVANT JOBS

Corporate Attorney

USA-NJ-Mount Laurel

Parker McCay is seeking a mid-level attorney to join the corporate transactional department, a dynam...

Apply now

Labor, Employment, and Education Attorney

USA-NJ-Mount Laurel

Parker McCay is seeking an experienced attorney to focus on all aspects of counseling and litigation...

Apply now

Litigation paralegal

USA-TX-Dallas

We are looking to immediately hire a responsible, highly organized, self-motivated litigation parale...

Apply now

Attorney

USA-TX-Dallas

Associate Attorney – 7 to 10 Years’ Experience - Dallas/Fort Worth   ...

Apply now

SEARCH IN ARCHIVE

To Top