Court to Take Another Look at Funeral Protests

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A federal appeals court agreed Wednesday to take another look at whether a St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance drafted in response to the picketing of an anti-gay Kansas church.

The full 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis will meet January 9th to reconsider a three-judge panel’s October ruling in favor of members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka. In the now-vacated ruling, the panel upheld a district court ruling, saying peaceful protests near funerals are protected by the First Amendment.

Church members claim soldiers’ deaths in overseas wars are God’s punishment for American tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

Last year, a federal judge in Kansas City struck down Missouri’s funeral protest statute as unconstitutional and an appeal has been filed to the 8th Circuit. A ruling in the 6th Circuit in Ohio favored the protest laws.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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