Court Rules Against ACLU, Protestors in Military Funeral Lawsuit
Court Order Cites Judicial Watch’s Amicus Brief
Jan 30, 2007
(Washington, DC) "Judicial Watch, the public interest group that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law, announced today that a U.S. District Court in Missouri denied a request by the American Civil Liberties Union lawyers made on behalf of a member of the Westboro Baptist Church to prevent the state from enforcing its statute limiting protests “in or about” the location of funeral services (Shirley L. Phelps-Roper v. Jeremiah W. Nixon, et al., No. 06-cv-4156-FJG). The ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law on behalf of protesters who disrupted military funerals by picketing and conducting other protest activities.
The court order, issued by federal Judge Fernando J. Gaitan, Jr., essentially adopts Judicial Watch’s argument that Missouri’s “funeral protection law” is well-grounded in Eighth Circuit judicial precedent and is consistent with the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, Judge Gaitan specifically cites Judicial Watch’s amicus brief concerning the right of family members and friends of those killed in battle to mourn their loss. The judge writes: “…amicus Judicial Watch notes that Missouri also has an interest in protecting funeral attendees’ First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.” Judge Gaitan ruled that the ACLU’s client failed to demonstrate a “likelihood of success on the merits” of her arguments. Her request for a preliminary injunction was, therefore, denied.
“We’re pleased the court seems to recognize the right of funeral attendees to mourn those who died defending our country without being disrupted by protesters,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Unlike the ACLU, most Americans believe that mourners should be able to engage in quiet and reflective prayer at funerals. As the court noted, ‘…picketing soldiers’ funerals and belittling the sacrifices made by soldiers are intolerable actions…’”
Missouri lawmakers were spurred into action after protesters began picketing outside the August 2005 military funeral of Army Spec. Edward L. Myers in St. Joseph, Missouri. The law reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in picketing or other protest activities in front of or about any church, cemetery, or funeral establishment ... within one hour prior to the commencement of any funeral, and until one hour following cessation of any funeral…” The Missouri “funeral protection law,” therefore, does not ban picketing altogether, and does not make any reference to the content of the speech it seeks to regulate. As Judicial Watch argues in its brief, this is a “narrowly tailored law” that merely regulates the time and place of protests.” Judicial Watch
Here in Florida we were visited by members of this church or by demonstrators with similar warped views who raised anti-gay signs at the funeral of a soldier killed in Iraq. This is another case where the action of the ACLU is unfathomable. They (the ACLU) defend child-molester killers in Massachusetts (the Curley case-NAMBLA connection); they have attempted to destroy the Boy Scouts in many locations; and here they defend funeral disrupters. I don’t understand how anyone can continue to defend or to contribute to this organization. The ACLU (which does have Communist roots) has morphed from being a selective defender of our civil rights to an abuser of our community rights and responsibilities.
Judicial Watch is a nonpartisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation's public life.