St. Louis A federal judge has entered a consent judgment barring an eastern Missouri sheriff from enforcing state statutes prohibiting desecration of the flag and protests near funerals.
The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday that the case may be the first to challenge Missouri's flag desecration statute.
Earlier this year, St. Francois County Sheriff Dan Bullock pledged to enforce Missouri's flag desecration and funeral protest laws if members of Westboro Baptist Church protested at the funeral of a soldier. The ACLU filed suit in June on behalf of Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of Westboro Baptist, based in Topeka, Kan.
Members of the church have drawn national attention for protests to express their view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.