Court Issues Mixed Ruling on Mo. Funeral Protests
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 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.