October 18, 2012
8th Circuit Rules that City Can Ban Funeral Protests
The full 8th Circuit reversed the decision of the court below, ruling that a Missouri city can ban funeral protests. In 2007, the city of Manchester passed a law making it illegal for groups to protest within an hour and 300 feet of a burial or funeral service. The law still allowed picketing along the procession route. In 2009, the Westboro Baptist Church filed a lawsuit, claiming that the law violated its right to free speech because it was too vague.
A federal judge ruled that the First Amendment protects peaceful funeral protests, and in October 2011, a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit affirmed. In a rehearing en banc, the 11-judge court unanimously reversed the federal judge's ruling, saying that Manchester's protest restrictions are limited enough in scope to avoid a First Amendment violation.
See Joe Harris, Full 8th Circuit Tosses Fight to Protest Funerals, Courthouse News Service, Oct. 17, 2012.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.
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