The Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps and based in Topeka, Kansas, has received national attention since the early 1990s, when members of this vehemently anti-homosexual group began actively protesting events involving prominent homosexual people. Eventually, these protests grew to include people who were even marginally supportive of homosexuality. While these protests incited outrage among various groups of people, no widespread effort was made to limit the group's ability to protest at such events. In 2005, however, the group expanded its targets to include military funerals, maintaining that God was killing soldiers in Iraq because of His displeasure with the United States' acceptance of homosexuality and as retribution for an attack on Westboro Baptist Church in 1995. Because of the strong negative public response to these protests, during the 2006 legislative session, state legislatures across the country began to consider legislation prohibiting or limiting picketing and protesting at funerals. In response, Westboro Baptist Church has asserted that it will challenge such laws as unconstitutional restrictions on the freedom of speech. On February 23, 2006, Missouri became one of the first states to pass this type of legislation into law. Currently, the Specialist Edward Lee Myer's Law, as the law is known, greatly prohibits protesting activities at funerals. This Note will explain this legislation and the surrounding legal context and discuss possible treatment of it upon a constitutional challenge.
Right to Rest in Peace: Missouri Prohibits Protesting at Funerals, The,
71 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol71/iss4/14