ACLU Files Suit Against Maplewood Challenging the Town’s Funeral Protest Ban as Unconstitutional
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought suit against the town of Maplewood yesterday challenging the town’s ban on funeral protesting as unconstitutional. The ACLU brought the suit on behalf of the controversial Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church. The Church’s founder Fred Phelps believes that America is being punished with the death of soldiers for its tolerance of homosexuality. Church members first began protesting at the funerals of homosexuals, but can also be found protesting the funerals of soldiers and carrying signs that say things such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, but is part of a larger effort by the ACLU to go after state and local laws banning funeral protesting, says Tony Rothert, the legal director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri. The Westboro Baptist Church has already made some progress in challenging a state of Missouri law that banned funeral protests. A suit was filed to block the enforcement of the law while the constitutional challenge was tried, which was initially turned down by the District Court but was reversed by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals. Maplewood’s law is stricter than the state law, requiring a wider protest exclusion zone that lasts for a longer period of time. The mayor of Maplewood and a lawyer that represents Maplewood would not comment on the suit.
For more information, see the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article at: