Archive for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Federal court dismisses some claims from Phelps’ constitutional lawsuit, but others will continue

April 21, 2010, 12:10 p.m. Updated April 21, 2010, 2:55 p.m.


— A federal judge has dismissed claims questioning the constitutionality of Nebraska’s flag-mutilation law but said she’ll consider arguments over a state law barring protests within 300 feet of funerals.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Smith Camp ruled Shirley Phelps-Roper can raise questions about the flag-mutilation law during her criminal case in state court, so there’s no need to hear them in federal court.

Smith Camp based Monday’s decision on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that determined questions of federal constitutionality can be heard during ongoing proceedings in state courts when there’s an important state interest and adequate opportunity to discuss constitutionality.

Phelps-Roper, 52, is a member of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., whose members believe U.S. troop deaths are punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

She sued state and local officials in December, arguing Nebraska’s flag and funeral protest laws, along with a city of Bellevue ordinance requiring permits for things like parades and rallies, are unconstitutional.

Her attorney, Margie Phelps, said an appeal to the judge’s dismissal of her client’s challenge to the flag-mutilation law was in the works.

“What people need to be real clear on in Nebraska ... is this little church that services God will not bow down and worship your filthy flag — period,” Phelps said.

The federal lawsuit followed Phelps-Roper’s 2007 arrest during a protest at the funeral of a National Guardsman in Bellevue. Authorities say she let her then-10-year-old son stand on an American flag and she wore a flag as a skirt that dragged on the ground.

Phelps-Roper is scheduled to stand trial in August in Sarpy County Court on charges of violating the flag law, disturbing the peace, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and negligent child abuse stemming from the protest.

Nebraska’s law against flag desecration bars intentionally “casting contempt or ridicule” upon a U.S. or Nebraska flag by mutilating, defacing, defiling, burning or trampling it. State law also prohibits picketing within 300 feet of a funeral or memorial services. The law applies one hour before services begin and two hours after they conclude. Violators of either law face a misdemeanor charge.

Smith Camp’s decision allows Phelps-Roper’s lawsuit to go ahead on claims the protest law is unconstitutional. Questions about the Bellevue ordinance were thrown out because the city had repealed it.

Also dismissed was a proposed settlement between Phelps-Roper and Bellevue officials. According to terms of the settlement included in court documents, the city and its employees, including police officers, would not enforce the state’s flag and protest laws, would agree the charges against Phelps-Roper were not justified and would not testify in the criminal case, among other things.

Smith Camp ruled that although Bellevue officials had agreed to the settlement, state defendants in the case had not, so the court couldn’t approve it.


Bobo Fleming 8 years, 2 months ago

I know this isnt the right idea and clearly unconstitutional but the phrase "drawn and quartered" which I studied in English History comes to mind.

Ron Holzwarth 8 years, 2 months ago

The only thing the Phelps clan wants is attention. If everyone would just ignore them, they might not go away, but we wouldn't have to think about them.

Bobo Fleming 8 years, 2 months ago

I think that if they werent covered by the press they would go away. I think they have to get more and more extreem in order to stay in the news. They give Kansas a bad name and they give Baptist a bad name.

Jaylee 8 years, 2 months ago

Godless blasphemers, the Phelpses. They worship their own ideals, nothing God ever said.

I agree with Fred on one thing. If there were a worldwide disaster and all of the human race were wiped out, he would probably make it through. Not because he was saved or anything, only because he slightly resembles a rat or cockroach in nature. Slinky, nasty-spirited, self-abhoring individual.

SassyGirl 8 years, 2 months ago

Follow the money. You will find that our good ol' Sen. Sam Brownback is funding these idiots.

chasmo 8 years, 2 months ago

Do you have a link supporting your statement about Brownback?

ivalueamerica 8 years, 2 months ago

It is not that far of a stretch, Fred did allign himself with Fred Thompson who holds the same views as Sam Brownback.

areyouserious 8 years, 2 months ago

what a waste of space these people are........

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 years, 2 months ago

Where do trhese vermin get their money? I have not found any source that would tell us this. I know they are all "lawyers", but lawyers must have paying clients to survive. Where is it coming from? There must be others who support these unspeakable wreches, who is bankrolling this group?? They cannot exist in a vacuum. The Phelpses have some admirers somewhere. Who are they and where are they? They cannot print money (I don't think) and all these outrageous events that they create do not occur without some financial backing. I would really like to know just who are the partrons of these cockroaches???

Liberty275 8 years, 2 months ago

I can understand the zoning bit, but the flag-desecration law is not only unconstitutional it also is an example of the opposite of what our flag means..

You have to be a moron to respect the cloth more than the meaning behind the cloth.

heath 8 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. The freedom the flag symbolizes includes the freedom to deface the flag.

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Yeah, I got that part. I'm getting on in years, but seem to recall cases from way back in the 60's overturning laws that said things like you couldn't wear a flag patch on your butt.

Let them p* on the flag if they want to. I believe in a higher power that will dispense justice when the time comes. What I find unconscionable is the funeral protests. There have always been some limitations on 'free' speech, and families grieving their loss should have the peace to do so in private.

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

"What people need to be real clear on in Nebraska ... is this little church that services God will not bow down and worship your filthy flag — period,” Phelps said."

What the Phelpsians need to be real clear on is that nobody will bow down and worship any alleged god that would inspire the likes of filthy pigs like you, Margie.

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

"Brood." Good word.

"Litter" might be more apt, though.

notajayhawk 8 years, 2 months ago

Point taken. My apologies.

Perhaps "clutch"?

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