News | Westboro Baptist Church

Congress Puts Kibosh On Westboro's Military Funeral Protests

WestboropicketHateful Westboro Baptist Church's protests at military funerals may soon be a thing of the past. The Senate today passed an "Honoring America's Veterans" bill that includes an amendment barring protests two hours before and two hours after military funerals.

The Huffington Post offers more details:

According to "The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012," which is now headed to President Barack Obama's desk, demonstrators will no longer be allowed to picket military funerals two hours before or after a service. The bill also requires protestors to be at least 300 feet away from grieving family members.

This aspect of the legislation was introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who, at the urging of a teenage constituent, proposed new limitations on military funeral demonstrations as a response to a 2011 Supreme Court case that ruled such actions were protected under the First Amendment.

The bill also expands reporting policies for sexual assaults at VA facilities, extends home loan guarantees for surviving spouses of fallen soldiers and guarantees better treatment for soldiers with severe brain injuries, according to Stars and Stripes.

Unfortunately there's no way to ban Westboro from protesting other funerals, like Elizabeth Taylor's.

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  1. How about having the two-hour window restriction for ALL funerals.

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 2, 2012 7:34:37 PM

  2. Yeah, because the USSC is really going to uphold this bill if it passes.

    As much as I hate that group, I just don't realistically see how this bill will pass the SC smell test.

    Posted by: Nat | Aug 2, 2012 7:48:28 PM

  3. Does Westboro Baptist Church have fewer free speech rights than Chick-Fil-A? I'm ready to hear all the outrage from the far right calling for support of Westboro's free speech rights.....

    Posted by: Tim NC | Aug 2, 2012 7:58:34 PM

  4. "Does Westboro Baptist Church have fewer free speech rights than Chick-Fil-A? I'm ready to hear all the outrage from the far right calling for support of Westboro's free speech rights....." -- TIM NC


    Ironic that this bill, according to the article, is by a Republican who probably supported the Chic-fil-crap appreciation day--citing free speech rights.

    Posted by: Nat | Aug 2, 2012 8:05:44 PM

  5. One day the Republicans are promoting Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day to DEFEND FREEDOM OF SPEECH and the VERY next they're passing a law to silence it!

    They protect the speech they like and shut down the speech that they don't all while complaining that Liberals shut down speech they don't like.

    I might also add that NO Republican organized a "Starbucks Appreciation Day" to protect their freedom of speech rights when the anti-gay marriage crowd started the "Dump Starbucks" boycott.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 2, 2012 8:20:02 PM

  6. The bill won't pass muster. The Supremes have previously ruled in favor of Westboro.

    Posted by: jason | Aug 2, 2012 8:45:50 PM

  7. I agree that this probably won't pass the SCOTUS sniff test.

    Posted by: BobC562 | Aug 2, 2012 9:01:11 PM

  8. Agreed, this technically violates their free speech so long as they're on public property

    Posted by: GREG | Aug 2, 2012 9:20:23 PM

  9. TampaZeke: True, yet I don't recall any Republican mayors implying they were going to prevent Starbucks from operating in their cities.

    With regards to this bill, although I'm VERY sympathetic to it and truly despise Westboro, I also cannot see how it will be upheld by SCOTUS.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | Aug 2, 2012 9:27:54 PM

  10. Arguments could be made that it's harassment, incitement to violence, gathering without a permit, and about 30 other laws, accurate or not. So if it's not held up, they'll just start arresting them the second they start screaming. A lot of cops are former military and in many jurisdictions won't put up with this type of behavior.

    Gay funerals are one thing. Military funerals are quite another. Both are tragic, but the responses are quite different.

    Posted by: Paul R | Aug 2, 2012 9:42:41 PM

  11. JOHNAGJ, you're absolutely right and that's where this issue went off the rails and got reframed by the homophobes and Republicans. I know that those mayors meant well but they did us a HUGE disservice!

    NO gay organization called for banning Chick-fil-A from ANY city. In fact NO gay organization even called for a boycott of Chick-fil-A. The same can't be said for Starbucks' and the anti-gay, Republican groups that took offense at them.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 2, 2012 9:52:57 PM

  12. I wonder if the GOP bill even mentions Westboro's reason for picketing military funerals.

    Posted by: BobN | Aug 2, 2012 11:16:53 PM

  13. "Congress Puts Kibosh On Westboro's Military Funeral Protests"

    As they should and should have done years ago.

    Posted by: OS2Guy | Aug 2, 2012 11:31:30 PM

  14. Nice sentiment, blatantly unconstitutional.

    Also: nobody in power gave a flying fig when the Phelpses were only protesting the funerals of AIDS victims and murdered gay kids.

    Posted by: Rich F. | Aug 2, 2012 11:47:51 PM

  15. ...but that's a CLEAR violation of the First Amendment. Just look at Chick-Fil-A, even hate speech is protected in the F.A. The government CANNOT impede free speech. Of course, I believe that the Phelps Klan should have their asses kicked, but they should be allowed to put themselves in that position.

    Posted by: Tre | Aug 3, 2012 12:07:49 AM

  16. This type of law actually already exists in many states and has passed constitutional muster if it has reasonable time and distance restrictions (e.g. during the 2 hours before and after the funeral you must be xx feet away). It won't stop them though, they continue to protest in these states, they just move the required amount of feet away and get the news clip anyway.

    Posted by: E | Aug 3, 2012 12:25:19 AM

  17. Putting an end to the Westboro outrages is only a matter of common decency, a concept far from the Babtist bigots.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Aug 3, 2012 12:45:56 AM

  18. You know what's interesting about Republicans proposing and helping to pass this legislation is the implications it could have on the SECOND Amendment. They are clearly saying that Constitutional rights can be limited when common decency and civilized society are threatened. Lest they be hypocrites, there should be no reason why limitations to the Second Amendment should not also be passed.

    I doubt they'll see it that way.

    Posted by: endo | Aug 3, 2012 7:34:43 AM

  19. It is about time. I am not a violent person, but I must admit that I would have loved to have seen the parents of one of these young patriots being buried to open up and shoot the kneecalfs off these Westboro mutants. Yea, don't kill them, just injury them for their miserable life. Oh, yes I would. And the reason that I never give to the ACLU is because they support these mutants.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 3, 2012 9:12:09 AM

  20. Thanks for this article and your reporting. What you do is appreciated.

    I posted it to my LGBT Group on LinkedIn to spur members to read your article and to make comment. I also scooped it at Scoop.It on my LGBT Times news mashup.

    Link to group >>

    All LGBT+ and community allies.... please come join me and 15,000+ of your soon to be great connections on LinkedIn. The member base represents 80% of the world's countries. As well as the down stream in my LInkedIn personal connections that reach over 24 million potential live stream viewers on LinkedIn alone.

    The group is strictly professional office friendly dialog, posting and profiles / profile images. I've been told by many that it may well be one of the best run / managed groups on LinkedIn.

    You can be as out or private as you like and I provide instructions on how to set those preferences (In the Manager's Choice area).

    It's core value is - Visibility can lead to awareness which can lead to equality. Come stand with us and increase our visibility on the globe's largest professional networking site. Be a professional who just happens to be LGBT - or a welcomed community ally.

    Posted by: Dennis Velco | Aug 3, 2012 9:30:31 AM

  21. one cannot choose who and who not to allow constitutional freedoms because of distaste for the practitioners.
    the passing and publicizing of time-wasting, distracting and foolish legislation is one of the major failings of Congress.
    get down to the real business please. but enjoy your five weeks of paid vacation first, please. fools.

    Posted by: vwdavy | Aug 3, 2012 10:38:26 AM

  22. If these mutants dared to picket at the funeral of a loved one of mine, I would shoot them off at the knee caps. Not enough to get me imprisoned for life but enough so that they would spend years in pain. They are cancers that must be eradicated.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 3, 2012 10:40:50 AM

  23. I'd like to see a real expose on the Westboro crew, who they really are, how they came into existence, what their previous background was prior to this 'Church' creation, etc. These people are the ultimate trolls, cartoonish really. Something isn't kosher.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Aug 3, 2012 10:52:43 AM

  24. The Phelps mutants are the most evil people on earth. No evil that comes upon them is enough.

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 3, 2012 11:03:49 AM

  25. "one cannot choose who and who not to allow constitutional freedoms because of distaste for the practitioners."

    Actually, they can. And they do all the time. You're entirely misinformed if you think there aren't numerous limitations to free speech.

    The "do not call" list for one. Laws preventing campaigning near polling places on Election Day. Incitements to violence. Designated demonstrator zones at Gay Pride events.

    Posted by: endo | Aug 3, 2012 11:10:05 AM

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