I am so outraged, I can't even begin to express myself clearly. After my opinions on this matter, I have included the press release from the Governor of Missouri - a strong advocate veterans and their families.
A three-judge panel has decided that Westboro Baptist Church group who achieved infamy by staging hate-filled protests at the funerals of our Nation's fallen soldiers has the right to do so once again. The State of Missouri, to protect the grieving families from people spewing vitriolic idiocy, all while claiming First Amendment rights, passed a law that restricted protesters to no more than 300 feet from the grave. I find it difficult to conceive how any court could allow this to happen. Their protests have nothing to do with the individuals and for a court to say they cause no harm. Why are they protesting at the funerals? Because according to a spokesperson for the group "members of her church believe God is punishing America for
what WBC considers the sin of homosexuality by killing Americans,
including soldiers. As part of her religious duties, she believes she
must protest and picket at certain funerals, including the funerals of
United States soldiers, to publish the church's religious message: that
God's promise of love and heaven for those who obey him in this life is
counterbalanced by God's wrath and hell for those who do not." And so, they stand nearly toe-to-toe with the bereaved wives, parents and children of our brave soldiers and sailors while chanting hate-mongering rhetoric. What do they say? Things like "Thank God for dead soldiers." "God blew up the troops." "God hates fags." The protests have nothing to do with those who died. They inflict incredible emotional harm upon those who mourn.
Yet, these judges feel this is peaceful picketing causing no harm to anyone. Writing for the panel, Circuit Judge Kermit E. Bye stressed that the
appeals court was not ruling on the constitutionality of the laws.
However, Bye said that because the church had shown a “fair” chance of
ultimately winning its case, it deserved a preliminary injunction,
which would bar the state from enforcing the laws while litigation
continued. You can read the unanimous ruling here.
These judges have held that the loss of their ability to protest graveside is a loss of First Amendment freedom for the picketers as any emotional abuse heaped upon these families does not fall under the protections from unwanted speech, as the statute was too narrowly tailored and normal restrictions for a "captive audience" apply to the home and that it will not cause "substantial harm to others". And so, to protect the protesters from "irreparable harm" from restricting their rights, the injunction has been granted to allow them to once again begin the disruptions of many lives.
What follows is a press release from the Office of the Governor of Missouri:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 7, 2007
Contact: Jessica Robinson, 573-751-0290
Gov. Blunt Calls Court Decision To Allow Protests At Military Funerals Outrageous
Disagrees with Court Claim that it “Will Not Cause Substantial Harm to Others”
- Gov. Matt Blunt is taking issue with a preliminary injunction issued
by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals on the enforcement of Missouri’s law banning protest at military funerals. Gov. Blunt called for and enacted the law after an extreme group from Kansas protested the Missouri funeral of Specialist Edward Lee Myers.
a callous disregard for the families of fallen servicemen and women,
the court claimed their action to allow protests at military funerals
“will not cause substantial harm to others.”
“It is an outrage that this extreme group in Kansas feels it is appropriate to protest the funeral services of Missouri’s military men and women who lost their lives defending the freedoms and security of the United States,” Gov. Blunt said. “And
it is outrageous that this court believes that allowing protests at the
funerals of fallen Soliders, Sailors, Airmen and Marines ‘will not
cause substantial harm to others.’ I think the
family of Specialist Myers and others who have experienced these kinds
of protests as they honored their sons and daughters would say
‘substantial harm’ is an understatement.”
Gov. Blunt is a committed advocate for veterans and their families. Following
what he called an appalling protest at the funeral of Specialist Edward
Lee Myers the governor sent a strong message that Missouri
not only supports our military members at home and abroad but that the
sacrifices they make are valued, respected and important to the
grateful people they serve.
“A despicable protest at the funeral of Specialist Edward Lee Myers clarified the need for legislation making it clear Missouri
will not tolerate protests from radical groups that disrupt those who
are mourning the loss of a military hero,” Gov. Blunt said. “I
enacted a strong law to allow the families of the fallen to honor the
lives of those who made the ultimate sacrifice with dignity and in
peace. I urge the Eight Circuit of Appeals to
throw out this misguided case and support our nation’s military men and
women and their families.”