Appeals Court Ruling May Spark Westboro Lawsuit Dismissal, County Officials Say
Westboro Baptist Church members filed a lawsuit against St. Charles County over its ordinance banning picketing within 300 feet of funerals.
A U.S. Court of Appeals ruling could lead to dismissal of a Westboro Baptist Church lawsuit against St. Charles County, officials said.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit overturned a lower court’s ruling against a City of Manchester ordinance that protects the rights of funeral attendees “to mourn in peace and privacy for a limited time in a limited space.”
The court concluded “that Manchester has shown a significant government interest in protecting the peace and privacy of funeral attendees for a short time in limited space.”
“This is a great, common-sense decision,” said St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann in a news release. “We’re confident it lays the groundwork for the case against St. Charles County to be dismissed.”
Westboro Baptist Church has become nationally known by protesting at funerals of about 500 soldiers killed in the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The American Civil Liberties Union has represented Westboro in what it said is a First Amendment issue.
St. Charles County passed an ordinance similar to the one involved in the Manchester lawsuit. The law bans picketing within 300 feet of a funeral for an hour before through an hour after the service.
The city of St. Charles also passed a law identical to the St. Charles County ordinance.
For more information on Westboro Baptist Church and the lawsuit, see the following articles:
- Council May Decide to Restrict Funeral Protests Tonight
- Judge Blocks St. Charles County From Enforcing Ban on Funeral Picketing
- Westboro Baptist Protest Draws Critics to St. Charles
- St. Charles County Attorney Says Supreme Court Decision Won't Affect Lawsuit
- St. Charles City Council Approves Funeral Picketing Ban
- Westboro Baptist Church Protests at Fort Zumwalt East