Funeral Picketing

Ken AshfordConstitutionLeave a Comment

180pxphelps_child_picketFred Phelps, a supposed "Christian", has made a name for himself by leading a band of degenerates.  Together, they protest at funerals across the country, usually of fallen soldiers.  They shout and carry signs that say "Thank God for 9/11" and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers" — all to spotlight their belief that these things are God’s way of punishing America because of our "endorsement" of homosexuality. [For more on Phelps, read this]

Larfely in response to Phelps, states are considering legislation that would limit (although not ban) protests at funerals.  Wisconsin, in fact, passed a law, keeping protesters 500 feet away from the funeral, and not letting them protest within an hour of the funeral.

Obviously, an admirable law, but it raises serious constitutional concerns.

Eugene Volokh has a nice primer on the current state of First Amendment law as it applies to protests.  Like me, he’s skeptical of the legislation.  But I think such laws ultimately pass constitutional muster.