Archive for Friday, February 2, 2007

Senators propose funeral picketing bill

February 2, 2007


— Kansas legislators again are trying to find a way to ban picketing at funerals of U.S. troops killed in combat, in response to protests in recent years throughout the nation by the Rev. Fred Phelps and his followers.

Last year, a funeral picketing bill died because the House and Senate couldn't agree on the best way to deal with what legislators agreed was an embarrassment to the state. Some worried that if the law was too restrictive, Phelps and his followers would win a lawsuit and get attorneys' fees, further financing their activities.

Under current state law, it is illegal to picket "before or about" a funeral service one hour before, during or two hours after the service starts.

The bill introduced Thursday bans protests within 300 feet of a funeral within one hour before, during and two hours following the start of the funeral. It also makes it unlawful to obstruct public streets or sidewalks while picketing. Violations would be a misdemeanor.

This year's version has a new wrinkle: The ban wouldn't be enforced until the Kansas Supreme Court rules that it's constitutional. The attorney general's office would be directed to file a lawsuit challenging the law.

"It's a way to test the constitutionality without running the risk of getting sued and losing the lawsuit," said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, who introduced the bill with 36 co-sponsors in the 40-member chamber.

"We are telling the attorney general to sue the state, claiming it's unconstitutional, and see what the court says," said Schmidt, R-Independence.

The bill also says if protesters defame the memory of the dead service member, the estate could file a lawsuit. That part of the law would be in effect irrespective of how the court rules on the buffer zone.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, spokeswoman for the church and daughter of Fred Phelps, dismissed the legislation.

"What legislative session would be complete without a run at the servants of God at Westboro Baptist Church," said Phelps-Roper, an attorney.

Westboro Baptist's funeral picketing has inspired outrage and legislation across the nation. At least 27 states, plus the federal government, have enacted laws restricting funeral picketing, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.


Tom McCune 11 years, 3 months ago

Vicious, sadistic loons are not the servants of my God. They are the servants only of their own egos and delusions.

Tom McCune 11 years, 3 months ago

The only drawback to the proposed legislation is that it might put a damper on the massive statewide festival that would spontaneously erupt when Phelps passes on to his reward or punishment.

institches 11 years, 3 months ago

While I think this legislation is probably a good idea, it just mystifies me that we have to create law to prevent one man and his followers to picket. There is already a law on the books because of Mr.Phelps. Would this bully go away if we ignored him? If we must protect the funerals of anyone against these horrible picketers who feel justified in projecting their agenda, then lets do it and forget the cost.

Just in case you are reading this Fred... God does not hate. Period. How dare you speak on His behalf.

willie_wildcat 11 years, 3 months ago

"What legislative session would be complete without a run at the servants of God at Westboro Baptist Church," said Phelps-Roper, an attorney.

Sorry but none of the inbred Phelps clan are in any way servants of God. More like servants of hate and ignorance to me. And to think she will probably take ol' Fred's place when he finally kicks the bucket.

bevy 11 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps we should take a lesson from the Lord - and counter hate with love. My favorite example of this is the group of motorcyclists who so lovingly surround and protect grieving families from these hate-mongers.

I don't have a motorcycle, but I'm with them in spirit.

Maybe if more of us put the energy and commitment to put ourselves out there in opposition to Phelps & Co., as they have put into their efforts, some good would come of it. That being said, I'm as guilty as anyone of sitting by while it goes on.

And as weird as this may sound to some, pray for the Phelps family, especially the children who don't have a choice in what they do. They are sick to their very marrow, and need God's mercy to heal their hating hearts.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 3 months ago

I don't know that a celebration would be considered the same thing as a protest, Newell.

Does seem kind of sad, though, that one man has poisoned so much that we debate celebrating his death.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.