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Court Issues Mixed Ruling on Missouri Funeral Protests

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AFP/Getty Nicholas Kamm

AFP/Getty Nicholas Kamm

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – A federal appeals court has upheld a Missouri law banning protests within 300 feet of funerals but has struck down a broader law that could have kept protesters even further away.

The decision Friday by a panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stems from a challenge to a pair of 2006 Missouri laws enacted after protests of military members’ funerals by a Kansas-based church that denounces homosexuality.

The appeals court said a Missouri law barring protests “in front of or about any location at which a funeral is held” violates First Amendment free speech rights because it creates a buffer zone of an undetermined size. It upheld a separate law setting the 300-foot buffer around funerals but said it cannot apply to funeral processions.

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