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Appeals court: Town can restrict funeral protests

ST. LOUIS — A federal appeals court has ruled that a St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance aimed at preventing picketing by an anti-gay Kansas church.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday reverses a previous ruling by a three-judge panel of the court. The panel ruling last year prohibited the St. Louis suburb of Manchester, Mo., from enforcing the law it drafted in response to activities by members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church.

Members of the church frequently protest at funerals of soldiers, claiming the deaths are God’s punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Tony Rothert represented Westboro member Shirley Phelps-Roper in the case and says a decision about whether to appeal will be made soon.