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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 , 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.

steve January 19, 2011 at 05:51 AM
i think it is a shame, that you cannot even lay your family member, friend, or even a stranger without being violated..this is a true sign how in trouble our country is from financially to our core morality...i'm afraid we are headed for some horrible times..in the near future..if we don't step back and examine ourselves from personal to government values..
Jeff Brandt January 19, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Wait, what? The ACLU is FOR the Westboro Baptist Church? What are they thinking?
Kalen Ponche January 19, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Hi Jeff- check out this article we did a few weeks ago in which the ACLU staff attorney Grant Doty explains why it is representing the Phelps-Ropers: http://patch.com/A-cB9Z
Jeff Brandt January 19, 2011 at 05:52 PM
What is the point of rallying against LGBT discrimination and being avowed champions of the oppressed if they're going to be for "GodHatesFags.com"? The ACLU is meaningless.
Linda Austin January 19, 2011 at 10:21 PM
The ACLU defends anyone's right to free speech, regardless of whether they like that speech or not. They are supposed to be impartial. I do hope someone comes up with ban wording that can pass a legal challenge. I don't believe the Constitution meant to allow unwanted demonstrations interrupting private family ceremonies. Who knows what the Westboro-ites will come up with next... screaming at weddings for the allegedly unchaste?

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