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ACLU Challenges New St. Charles Funeral Protest Ban

Brian Kelly
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Westboro Baptist church (KMOX/file photo)

Westboro Baptist church (KMOX/file photo)

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KMOX)-It didn’t take long for the American Civil Liberties Union to go to court over the latest attempt to ban protests at funerals.

Just hours after St. Charles Mayor Patty York signed a new ban into law Tuesday night, the ACLU filed a challenge on grounds it violates free speech.

The ordinance bans protests within 300 feet, and one hour either side of, a funeral.

ACLU of Eastern Missouri Legal Director Tony Rothert says the 300 foot limit would extend the protest-free zone onto public streets and sidewalks, and that violates the constitution, “It’s foundational to the first amendment that protestors, whoever they are, whatever they’re saying, have a right to engage in peaceful protesting on public property, so long as it is not interfering with the proper use of that property by other people who have an equal right to it.”

He says that the new ordinance makes it illegal for someone to stand on a sidewalk, holding a sign saying nothing, and that’s too broad, “If it can be done for funerals, it can be done for abortion clinics, anywhere within a football field length of an abortion clinic, churches and whatever legislators can think of.”

Rothert says, “Today it’s a message I disagree with, but the next message they go after might be one I do agree with.”

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