St. Charles City Council Approves Funeral Picketing Ban
Identical county law is being challenged in federal court.
Even as an identical St. Charles County law was being challenged in court, the St. Charles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance banning protests within 300 feet of funeral ceremonies for one hour before through one hour after ceremonies.
In a departure from normal procedure, Mayor Patti York signed the bill immediately after the vote.
Earlier Tuesday, St. Charles County and ACLU attorneys presented their arguments in a hearing in the 8th U.S. Circuit Court in St. Louis.
Councilwoman Laurie Feldman, Ward 3, said, “To be clear, I don’t think this bill goes far enough. I wish it could go further, but there are constitutional rights here.”
Councilman Richard Veit, Ward 1, thanked council members for their support. Veit sponsored the bill.
Before the vote, two veterans urged the council to support the picketing ban.
“The same law that allows these toilet-tongues to yell their obscenities and throw the United States and Missouri flags on the ground also allows me to petition you to do something about it,” said Tom Kuypers during the meeting’s public comment session.
Kuypers described himself as a 20-year combat veteran.
James Arnac also urged the council to support the funeral picketing restrictions.
“Each family must have the right to lay their family members to rest without disruption,” said Arnac, a VFW and American Legion member.
The St. Charles County law passed last fall is being challenged in federal court by Westboro Baptist Church members Shirley and Megan Phelps-Roper. The ACLU of Eastern Missouri is representing the church members, who say the law violates their constitutional rights.
St. Charles County Council members based the law on a Nebraska law that survived one federal court challenge. That decision is under appeal in Nebraska.