Archive for Tuesday, February 14, 2006

KU prof gives lawmakers advice about banning Phelps’ funeral pickets

McAllister: 300-foot buffer zone could be ruled unconstitutional

February 14, 2006


— Kansas University law professor Stephen McAllister told lawmakers today that a proposed 300-foot ban on picketing at funerals may be determined by the courts as unconstitutional.

"There are virtually no cases that uphold a buffer zone of a significant distance," said McAllister a constitutional law professor, former dean of the KU law school and former clerk for U.S. Supreme Court justices Byron White and Clarence Thomas.

McAllister was asked by the Senate Federal and State Affairs Committee to provide advice on legislation that was prompted by demonstrations by the Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church at soldiers' funerals.

For years, Phelps and his family have been demonstrating at funerals of AIDs victims. Recently, he started showing up at soldiers' funerals, often with signs stating "Thank God for IEDs" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."

Phelps says soldiers are being killed as part of God's punishment of the United States for accepting homosexuals.

At least 14 states, including Kansas, are proposing limits to protests at funerals because of Phelps.

In Kansas, Senate Bill 421 would ban picketing and protest marches within 300 feet of a funeral service one hour before, during or two hours after the service. Currently, state law says only that it's illegal to picket "before or about" a funeral service.

McAllister said the Legislature could probably restrict protests around non-public forums, which include cemetaries, churches and funeral homes. But, he said, a 300-foot restriction would probably extend to traditionally public forums, such as sidewalks and streets. He said courts have refused to limit speech in those public areas.

Sen. Pete Brungardt, R-Salina, chairman of the committee, said he would like the panel to think about McAllister's testimony and then perhaps craft a bill later in the week.

Brandy Sacco, whose husband Dominc Sacco died in Iraq, said she was disappointed to hear McAllister's legal analysis, but was confident lawmakers could write legislation that was constitutional. "I'm not giving up," she said.

Phelps and his followers protested Dominic Sacco's funeral in Topeka in November.


Grundoon Luna 12 years, 2 months ago

Bankerino, he definitely shouldn't, but he doesn't care about what he shouldn't do. All he cares about is his agenda of hate. If God truly exists as Phred believes that he does, Phred is going to get his butt kicked down stairs and putt on a spit for eternity. Talk about getting messed up behind a message!! No diety would get behind what Phred is doing. I am, though, thankful that the only people that listen to him or attend Westboro are related to him, 11 lawyer children and their spouses and children (2 other lawyer children have disowned him and are living in other state, one even went so far and to change his name). Once he goes, it will be like cutting of the snake's head and the body dying. While Fred, Jr. is one of thei biggest A$$holes I've ever met, I don't think even he would carry this crap further when the old man dies.

Rick Aldrich 12 years, 2 months ago

i believe mr. phelps is a cold hearted, worthless, selfish, unhuman, wanta be gay but don't know how, living human being who is consuming good peoples air of this world. i wait to read a death report on this inhuman insane animal. he protested a family members funeral. and i hope every gay man and woman come to his funeral and sing joyish songs of his passing.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Just a thought:

I see a lot of people talking about how, because Phred pickets the funerals of people who either live in a manner not consistent with his personal morality or represent the governmental decisions he feels are immoral, they're going to go to HIS funeral and picket, and dance and sing and revel in the fact that he's dead.

What I see a lot of you saying is that because he lives his life in a manner that is not in accordance with your personal morality, that his funeral will not deserve the respect that a 'good' person's would.

I think that to picket anyone's funeral and disturb his loved ones in their grief, no matter how deeply you disagree with him or what life choices he's made, is reprehensible, and that doing it to him and his family in the name of self-righteous vengeance makes you no better than the Westboro Baptist Church.

Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, this is pot. I'm sure you two have lots to talk about, like the fact that you're both black as sin.

As an aside, I think that writing legislation designed specifically to keep one person or entity from doing something you find odious, immoral, or disgusting is not only unconstitutional, it's an insult to the legislative process.

glockenspiel 12 years, 2 months ago

I concur, a giant doushebag.

300 feet is not that far though, and would do little to prevent picketing. Couple questions. Many cemetaries are privatly owned. The ones that are not are owned by local governments. Whats would be wrong with the governing entity giving exclusive access to a private party for rare instances such as this? I also believe that many churches might also be able to comply with such a protocol. Such a protocol might even be able to restrict access beyond 300 feet.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 2 months ago

What about the restrictions on how close you can be to protest at the White House? At any political event where the higher-ups will be? ARe those unconstitutional, too?

Or do they set a precedent?

lunacydetector 12 years, 2 months ago

the press as a whole, in the accordance with their excuse why they don't show the cartoon of muhammed wearing a bomb on his head, should refrain from giving phelps any publicity....oh, but he claims to be a Christian?...never mind. anything that makes Christians look bad or something that secularists can make fun of (like Christians lack of understanding regarding some wacked out artist's display of a crucifix in a jar of urine "artwork") is okay by the press' standards.

like i said before, never mind.

Adrienne Sanders 12 years, 2 months ago

I think we should all ignore him completely and thorougly... since we can't ban him w/o restricting freedom of speech, let's not give him what he craves, which is attention, attention, attention.

Bobo Fleming 12 years, 2 months ago

a constitutional amendment would solve this problem.

bankboy119 12 years, 2 months ago

Definitely not important enough for a Constitutional amendment.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Re: not allowing people within a certain distance of the White House as precedent.

It's been demonstrated that sometimes, people who try to get close to the President try to kill him. No one demonstrating at a funeral has attempted to do the mourners physical injury, nor has there been a credible threat that they would. The Westboro Baptists do not threaten to physically injure their targets; emotional abuse is enough.

With regard to keeping people away from politicians, it's generally presented as a security matter, not a matter of whether or not one can protest in the sight of one's elected officials. The storied 'Free Speech Zones' cited as precedent went over remarkably badly, and it's worth noting that some of the same people who opposed that idea support this measure. Those people should perhaps check themselves for double standards.

Re: the ACLU and generalized lack of understanding thereof.

The ACLU would probably have to defend the Reverend Phelps (though I doubt he'd take their assistance) if they wanted to remain true to what they say they practice. What a lot of people don't realize is why the ACLU makes such an effort to defend the sleazy, the immoral, and the reprehensible. They don't like those people any more than you or I do, but if they can ensure that the Klan, and the Westboro Baptists, and brutal child-killing serial rapists get fair trials and preservation of their Constitutional rights, if they can ensure that artists whose borderline pornographic work has marginal actual artistic merit or worth can be free of censorship, then there's a greater likelihood that the sweet little 90-year-old grandma and the middle-class white Red Cross volunteer and the gay Hispanic schoolteacher will have their rights protected.

If they defend the people who are morally and socially indefensible, they test the impartiality of the law. Because law's not supposed to be about making us comfortable or keeping us from seeing and hearing what's unpleasant to us, it's supposed to be about giving society a structural framework on which to hang its hat. And under that framework, even disgusting worthless wastes of humanity have the same rights as 'decent people'.

justthefacts 12 years, 2 months ago

Those attending the hearing where the Proff spoke heard him giving advice that a court MIGHT rule the law unconstitutional. He did not say that it was a sure fire slam dunk foregone conclusion. So something may still be passed into law.

Meawhile, the "canary of freedom" theory allows for Constitutional protection of a lot of unpleasant uses of free speech. As long as such people can say such awful things, we know our rights are intact. But there are limits that have been upheld. You can't get away with yelling "FIRE" in a crowded public place. unless there really is a fire....

It's up the Legislature to determine how to proceed. No matter what language they use, any attempt to stifle Mr. God Hates ALL of You (but loves me) will want to fight this one out in court, under the theory of there is no such thing as bad publicity....

I say ignore him. It works for bratty 2 year olds most of the time.

Jay_lo 12 years, 2 months ago

Badgers live in holes right? Please be so kind as to crawl back in yours. Trying to shut people up with all your legal rhetoric is imposing your views, the same as you accuse others of doing. Calling a douchebag a douchebag does not make one a douchebag. There's something rotten brewing in the pot, and the kettle is getting damned tired of it.

As for the ACLU giving a tinker's damn about the rights of a 90-year old grandma, or a middle-class white Red Cross volunteer, fat chance. The ACLU is only concerned about high profile, media covered, and sometimes media created cases.

You are right about one thing. If you can't show respect for the deceased at any funeral service, then stay home. If they are truly as evil as you think, and you are truly as saintly as you claim to be, then rest assured there will be no path crossing in eternity.

As far as rights, if a grief stricken mourner is pushed over the edge by a protesting douchebag and an altercation occurs, who do you think will be arrested? I'll lay odds that a certain douchebag will be spending the night snug in his own bed.

On the other hand, if both parties should happen to be hauled in who do you think the ACLU will rush in to defend.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 2 months ago

Phelps' presence is an annoyance; a mosquito buzzing around your ear. The idea of passing a law to stop the behavior of one person is reactionary.

This has only become an issue now because Phelps is targetting causes dear to the christian right. When he stuck to bashing "fags" and jews, everything was hunky-dory. Now, funerals of soldiers? How dare he!? There ought to be a law!

Jay_lo 12 years, 2 months ago

The passage of a law would stop the protesting at funerals by everyone. The fact that only one lunatic is engaging in the practice at the present does not mean the law applies only to them. There are always the idiots out there who are just waiting their turn to be a copycat.

A mosquito buzzing around your ear is not shouting obscenities about your dearly departed. Your hunky-dory line is a bunch of crap. I heard of and despised Phelps and his family for protesting at any funeral service, long before he started in on the soldiers who are dying to protect his so-called right to be the saddest case in the state of Kansas.

little_lebowski_urban_acheiver 12 years, 2 months ago

Folks, it painfully clear Fred is gay. I saw him once protesting in Topeka once, Fred was in pink bikers shorts, HELLLO!!!!!!! Not that there is anything wrong with pink spandex.

yourworstnightmare 12 years, 2 months ago

JayLo, I am happy that you opposed Phelps when he was protesting gay funerals, but obviously your anger was not enough at the time to stimulate a law. It took offending the highly-sensitive christian right to do this.

Jay_lo 12 years, 2 months ago


Sorry, you're right. I should have noticed that no one in the blogs appears to have the right to disagree with anyone else's opinions.

I should also have noted that the proper way to fire off an ad hominem approach is to refer to others in a general fashion, such as badger's 1:46 p.m. posting, attacking as a group, all those misguided individuals who would dance and sing at Phelp's funeral. I should have realized how well calling someone "black as sin" contributed to a better understanding of the subject at hand. But again, perhaps I misunderstood, and he was referring to an actual pot and kettle.

And even though only one previous poster had expressed a predilection for singing and dancing, badger's comments were skillfully directed at "a lot of people", thus avoiding all pretense of being considered a personal attack.

My apologies for having stepped on the toes of not only a well established member of the LJWorld blogs, but also apparently his right-hand-man.

I will attempt to avoid this particular tactic in future postings, as I can see it has taken us considerably off track.

beatrice 12 years, 2 months ago

badger: "I think that to picket anyone's funeral and disturb his loved ones in their grief, no matter how deeply you disagree with him or what life choices he's made, is reprehensible, and that doing it to him and his family in the name of self-righteous vengeance makes you no better than the Westboro Baptist Church."

I understand where you are headed with this line of reasoning, and it is nothing I would want or choose to do myself, but there is one clear problem as I see it -- Phred has never been alone in his displays of hatred and picketing at funerals. His phriends and phamily have been there beside him all along. This hatred won't die with Phred, so those who would want to protest shouldn't cut them any slack. Should we really care if they are disturbed in their time of grief, when they clearly didn't care for the grief of others? I don't think so. Let them be disturbed, let them be mortified, let their hearts be broken in such a manner and to such a degree that time alone will not heal their ache. I hope picketers disturb the Phelps phamily with such magnitude that the only thing that will make them feel human again will be a rethinking of their life choices up to that point. For those at the phuneral who never protested with the phamily, I think they could also use a good dose of emotional distress brought on by picketing and dancing of joy at his demise in order to get them to think long and hard about the company they keep.

bettie 12 years, 2 months ago

before we get to into the aclu-baiting, i think it's important to point out why a law such as the one proposed would be considered an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.

prohibiting picketing even on publicly-owned cemetery grounds wouldn't be a constitutional issue because the a cemetery is not considered a "public forum".

such a prohibition, though, would not solve the problem at hand because the protestors could/do take to the streets and sidewalks around the cemetery. streets and sidewalks have repeatedly been held up as "traditional public forums". a buffer zone, like the 300-foot one proposed in the bill, would more often than not involve streets and/or sidewalks.

basically, in order for a time/place/manner restriction to be effective, it would necessarily be unconstitutional.

the possibility of a hate speech ordinance was brought up briefly (this would be necessary to take into consideration "emotional abuse" as someone mentioned earlier), but i don't see that happening in kansas any time soon. even if we were to get one, it would be equally tricky to write it in a way that satisfied constitutional test. it has, however, been done successfully in other places.

that's just what i gathered from today, anyway. thought the information might be helpful.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 2 months ago

I propose that a 300 foot ban on picketing at funerals should be passed, especially for security reasons...Phred's. If they do nothing, then one of these days someone will have had enough, and will plug him...and then they'll wish they'd had a law.

What if his pickets cause a riot, and several people are injured? Would that be enough to make a ban constitutional?

Does tragedy have to occur before a law is passed?

I don't see that a ban would necessarily affect only Phred. There are lots of hate groups out there.

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

You fools do not get to make an unconstitutional law to limit free speech simply because you think that will make someone angry. What is the point of speech if you can so easily twist it. What you losers don't understand is that if they can so easily ignore the First Amendment in our case simply because they don't like our message, what is that to stop them from limiting others' free speech again and again and again and again until words cease to have meaning. Moreover, each of you hate God and His judgments. God is in charge of all things (Amos 3:6). Therefore, He is killing the troops to be killed in Iraq with IEDs. You are denying the Sovereignty of God if you say anything else. And why shouldn't God continually kick this nation's ass? America is full of little God-haters such as yourself. America is whole-heartedly giving themselves over the sodomite (fag and dyke) agenda. Don't say that you don't agree with homosexuality and you know God hates them, which He does (Lev 18:22, Romans 1), because it doesn't matter if you say you don't agree with it; you have a duty to preach against it and love your neighbour as thyself by warning him his sin is taking him to Hell (Leviticus 19:17-18). So, you fools hate God because all we are doing is telling you that God hates this nation and is destroying it, and you are getting pissed; thus, you hate God and His judgments, and you are going to Hell if you don't repent, which isn't at all likely.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 2 months ago

How does limiting how close you can get limit free speech in any way? You can still say whatever you want. You'd just have to shout a little louder. Might want to buy lots of cough drops for those sore throats.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 2 months ago

Lol, lol...

They have to find out about those funerals all over the country some way, huh?

badger 12 years, 2 months ago


I seem to have offended Jay_lo.

Pardon me while I pause a moment in my self-mortification.

Jay_lo, I presume you're new to this forum, so I'll clarify. Go back to some of the other articles about the Reverend Phelps, and you'll find no shortage of people talking about their plans to protest his funeral, dance on his grave, and so forth. My statement wasn't just directed at a single poster on this thread, but at a common and popular sentiment frequently expressed around here. By the way, it's good that you've opposed Phelps since before it was hip and cool and part of Supporting the Troops, but please don't labor under the impression that you're the only one here who has.

As to the rest of your post, I'll leave you to froth out your personal issues with me however you choose. There's a pretty good chance you're several hundred miles from me and we've never met, so frankly your dislike of me is pretty meaningless. By the way, just to clarify: badgers live in burrows; nicer than a hole but still underground. I should probably also tell you that I'm not really a badger. You see, sometimes people on the Intarweb use nicknames, and that's mine. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it would be really hard to type with paws.

beatrice: I understand the sentiment, but it's still just too much like vengeance and anger, and vengeance and anger are the Westboro Baptists' stock in trade. Why pay them in coin they value? The people genuinely grieving the Rev. Phelps' loss would be hurt by a display of hate, and those who are so twisted as to keep his message going would probably be encouraged by it. Either way, hate's a lesson they already know. I'd rather teach them love and tolerance by demonstration.

Silence: I read a great deal, actually. I generally average three books a week, and try to keep at least one of those in the non-fiction realm. This week's books are "Mona Lisa Overdrive," "Stolen," and "American Soldier." I'm reading the last at my dad's request; next week I'll likely go back to my stack of historical biographies. I'm reading my way through the Presidents and Founding Fathers right now. Sorry, your assumptive attack was poorly formulated and remarkably inaccurate. Feel free to try again. It is amusing, by the way, that you spent the time yesterday to post several requests that others get lives, apparently objecting to the time they spend interacting on a message board.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

hga -

Don't be silly! I live in the Central Texas Hill Country, where to even put in a basement you need to plow through several tons of solid rock that starts less than two feet down! A whole house underground would be nearly impossible!

However, the ring thing and the wizard thing, well, you've got me. I'm not telling about the Brandybuck part, though.

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

Please don't labor under the impression that any of you are Christians in any way. When you aren't able to preach to your target audience, that is interference with free speech. Quit acting stupid. It's OK though; it's not as though our message is being sent out through out every media outlet in the country. God will see us through. He will not let one of our words fall to the ground. You God-haters got the message, and you are going to Hell. That is all!

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

Oh, yeah. This is what I have to say about 83-87% of Americans being Christian: Matthew 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Mark 7:6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

To be Christian, you must follow the teachings of Christ. You are not Christian by preaching God loves everyone, when Jesus Christ preached: Matthew 23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

Of course that is what I meant. You are extremely Bible-ignorant. Here is a list of verses that are all about God's hate and wrath to a disobediant people. There is no other interpretation for these verses.

Psalm 139:21 Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? 22 I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. Leviticus 20:23 - And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. Leviticus 26:30 - And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your images, and cast your carcases upon the carcases of your idols, and my soul shall abhor you. Deuteronomy 32:19 - And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. Psalm 5:5 - The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Psalm 5:6 - Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. Psalm 10:3 - For the wicked boasteth of his heart's desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. Psalm 11:5 - The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Psalm 53:5 - There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

Here are some more: Psalm 73:20 - As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image. Psalm 78:59 - When God heard this, he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel: Psalm 106:40 - Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. Proverbs 6:16-19 - These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. Proverbs 22:14 - The mouth of strange women is a deep pit: he that is abhorred of the LORD shall fall therein.
Lamentations 2:6 - And he hath violently taken away his tabernacle, as if it were of a garden: he hath destroyed his places of the assembly: the LORD hath caused the solemn feasts and sabbaths to be forgotten in Zion, and hath despised in the indignation of his anger the king and the priest. Hosea 9:15 - All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.
Zechariah 11:8 - Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me. Malachi 1:3 - And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Romans 9:13 - As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.

Now tell me: Are these verses particularly loving?

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

Hi antipas!

Are you saying I'm not a Christian, or not a good Christian?

antipas 12 years, 2 months ago

You are not a Christian if you don't preach those verses I gave you to a nation that hates God (America), so if you have any more questions, visit our website ( Otherwise, I am done with this blog.

badger 12 years, 2 months ago

I see.

You're right, by the way. I'm not a Christian. At least you got one fact straight.

Linda Endicott 12 years, 2 months ago

antipas, Since you were so good at posting all those lovely scriptures, here's a few for you:

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

James 4:11

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

And do you not believe that you should do unto others? Is this how you would want to be treated? To have people picketing at the funeral of one of YOUR loved ones?

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