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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 2010

Judge tosses some claims over flag law

April 22, 2010

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— 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.

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