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Oct 16, 2012

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 […]

Jun 23, 2011

Inside the First Amendment: Laws are not best way to thwart Westboro

Whatever your thoughts about the controversial Fred Phelps family and their Westboro Baptist Church — and for most Americans, those thoughts are negative — the group continues to find ways to grab headlines and public attention. In the wake of Monday’s death of Ryan Dunn, a star of MTV’s “Jackass” programs, in a traffic accident, […]

Apr 17, 2011

Divorce, punishment and protest bills pass

The General Assembly ended its 2011 session last week having passed legislation pertaining to parting, punishment and protest. One new measure will require a spouse who seeks a divorce over the other’s objection to live separate and apart from that person for only one year — rather than the current two-year condition — before filing […]

Mar 30, 2011

Two funeral picketing bills debated in committee

ANNAPOLIS — State Sen. Roy P. Dyson made no effort Wednesday to conceal his anger at a protester or disappointment in the Supreme Court as he urged colleagues to approve legislation to require picketers at funerals to stand at least 500 feet from mourners. Dyson called protester Fred Phelps “a son of a bitch” for […]

Mar 3, 2011

Inside the First Amendment: The price of free speech can be steep

After the U.S. Supreme Court’s Westboro Baptist Church free-speech decision, many online comments critical of the 8-1 ruling did so in speech that also relied on First Amendment protection. The situation was one more ironic twist in a case that pitted deep-seated sympathy for a grieving family against a basic constitutional right to speak out […]

Mar 2, 2011

Westboro ruling no surprise to lawyers

A day before the fifth anniversary of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s death in Iraq, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Kansas congregation had the right to picket his Westminster funeral. The court, in an 8-1 vote on Wednesday, upheld a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling overturning a $5 million judgment against […]

Mar 2, 2011

Supreme Court rules for Westboro Baptist over military funeral protests

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protests outside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families. The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million […]

May 25, 2010

Father of dead Marine files papers in case over funeral protests

The father of a Marine killed in Iraq says anti-gay protesters who showed up with inflammatory signs at his son’s funeral in Maryland should not have their actions protected by the Constitution’s freedom of speech guarantee. Attorneys for Pennsylvania resident Albert Snyder submitted a 67-page brief in their case Monday. Their case now before the […]

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