Federal judge upholds Missouri law banning funeral protests

March 13, 2014 at 3:25 PM
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., March 13 (UPI) -- A federal judge has upheld a Missouri law banning protests at funerals that was challenged by anti-homosexual group.

The law was created to deter protests at military funerals by members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., who in turn filed a lawsuit against the legislation, the Courthouse News Service reported.

Westboro Baptist Church members say they believes the deaths of U.S. servicemembers is a sign of God's wrath against the United States for the country's acceptance of homosexuality.

"Defendants [including Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster] state that there is no lack of clarity concerning the one hour before restriction, and therefore, plaintiff cannot demonstrate that the statute fails to provide proper notice of the conduct prohibited," U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan Jr. wrote in a 14-page opinion.

"Defendants also argue that the statute does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Defendants note that plaintiff's only argument supporting this claim is speculation that a funeral may start early, and no evidence adduced in this matter [other than plaintiff's self-serving affidavit] supports plaintiff's claim that funerals frequently begin earlier than published times."

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