Patterico's Pontifications

1/11/2011

Arizona Passes Law Against Picketing at Funerals

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:57 pm

It’s clearly targeted at stopping the Fred Phelps monsters from picketing the little girl’s funeral. But thanks to a doctrine that allows reasonable “time, place, and manner” restrictions, it’s also almost certainly constitutional:

Arizona legislators quickly approved emergency legislation Tuesday to head off picketing by a Topeka, Kan., church near the funeral service for a 9-year-old girl who was killed in the Tucson shootings. Unanimous votes by the House and Senate sent the bill to Gov. Jan Brewer for her expected signature. It would take effect immediately.

. . . .

The Westboro Baptist Church said Monday it plans to picket Thursday’s funeral for Christina Taylor Green because “God sent the shooter to deal with idolatrous America.” The fundamentalist church has picketed many military funerals to draw attention to its view that the deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Betcha Phelps is gay. But I digress.

The girl was the youngest of the six people killed during the shooting at an event held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was among 14 people injured. Giffords was shot in the head and critically wounded.

Numerous states have passed laws restricting protests at funerals after members of the Westboro church began protesting at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Arizona legislation is modeled on an Ohio law that was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Sinema said.

The four-paragraph Arizona bill makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail to picket or conduct other protest activities within 300 feet of a funeral or burial service — about the length of a football field. The prohibition applies from one hour before the event to one hour after.

The Westboro ghouls say they were going to picket 1000 feet away at an intersection anyway.

These Arizona legislators are pretty good at getting sensible legislation passed fast. Trade ya for ours!

45 Responses to “Arizona Passes Law Against Picketing at Funerals”

  1. You gotta love the AP. 300 feet is “about” the length of a football field? Pretty sure it’s exactly the length.

    Phelps is just another psycho who found a different way to shoot at innocent people for his own bizarre gratification.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  2. One possible problem; isn’t Arizona located in the infameous Ninth Circuit?

    johnnycab23513 (e15f0f)

  3. While Patriot Riders apologetically declined to attend (their mission is to shield those in uniform), Arizona’s numerous motorcycle clubs are banding together and riding en masse to do the job instead. Between this new law, local citizens groups planning to be shields, and the bike clubs, it would appear the Westboro crew will see their hateful efforts effectively destroyed by the push back of Americans and their glorious wall of love.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  4. I was under the impression that similar laws had been struck down in the past.

    And regardless, they will seek an injunction barring enforcement of this law by noon tomorrow. They have the appeal to the Ninth Circuit already drafted as well, waiting only for the text they’ll need to cut and paste. If the funeral isn’t tomorrow or Thursday, they will likely see it killed long enough to allow their sick show.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  5. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said the bill she was introducing is modeled on an Ohio law that has withstood court challenge. It would technically apply to protesters at any Arizona funeral, though Sinema was clear that it’s directed at Westboro.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  6. How far up have the challenges gone, and is the Ohio law currently being enforced?

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  7. They can measure from the exact location of the burial or funeral. Then towards the street. The funeral attendees might still see the protesters. As much as I dislike stupid protests, I have respect for the First Amendment. This law doesn’t sound Constitutional. If I were in their situation, I’ll get as close as possible.

    300 Feet (bcf6a9)

  8. You gotta love the AP. 300 feet is “about” the length of a football field? Pretty sure it’s exactly the length.

    I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this once and assume they’re counting the end zones. :)

    malclave (4e5d93)

  9. Ohio had a law regulating protests at funerals since 1957, but amended and broadened its funeral-picketing law in 2006, according to the First Amendment Center. That law barred protests for one hour before and one hour after a funeral procession within a 300-foot buffer zone.

    The Ohio law was upheld by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the U.S. Supreme Court heard an appeal from the Westboro church in October. They are expected to issue a decision by the late spring.

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  10. Good news,

    “… the Patriot Guard Riders have agreed to amend their usual stipulation that a funeral be military-related and will indeed travel to Arizona to lead efforts by the Tucson community to shield mourners from the Westboro hate group’s funeral-disrupting efforts.”

    Dana (8ba2fb)

  11. why isn’t this the law everywheres?

    happyfeet (aa4bab)

  12. A distance of 300′ should be constitutional. If you don’t allow a buffer would you allow them to go up to the gravesite and throw black roses on the casket? They should be allowed to protest to their crappy hearts desires as long as they keep their distance.

    But I expect enough counter-protesters to show up to prevent the “someday they will rot in hell Phelps family” from being a problem. I know a town in western MO blocked the Phelps from protesting a funeral in their town and there will be a lot more people coming out to support the Green family.

    MU789 (3b4ce0)

  13. Despite their good intentions, a law is not necessary to defeat the feeble-minded.

    Good people imbued with common sense are often able to achieve a peaceful result.

    Ag80 (e03e7a)

  14. i believe a have a far simpler and much more effective solution, also based in the law:

    have the Arizona Department of Fish and Game declare a special one day varmint season in the area, and auction off the tags to the highest bidders, one to a customer, with the proceeds going to a fund for the victims and their families.

    problem solved.

    redc1c4 (fb8750)

  15. I remember that case. I predict the Supreme Court will uphold the Sixth Circuit.

    Patterico (c218bd)

  16. let me say it now. one day someone is going to shoot these phelps people. i’m not saying it is good, or right, but when it happens: 1) i won’t be surprised, and 2) i won’t be particularly broken up about it, either.

    That’s assuming they don’t all drink the koolaid and die in mass murder/suicide, first.

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  17. I suspect that would be ONE mass killing where the two sides would be fighting to claim the shooter to be one of theirs…

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  18. Scott:

    Lol. I could see that scene.

    Beck: “I am telling you, he was found with a copy of my book, ‘Broke.’ Now on audio and hard cover and your kindle!”

    Obama: “Are you kidding? He specifically cited alinski, which is my favorite author! Besides myself, because let’s face it no one can be half as awesome as i am.”

    Aaron Worthing (73a7ea)

  19. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said the bill she was introducing is modeled on an Ohio law that has withstood court challenge.
    – Sinema, a Dem, is by no means a ‘blue-dog;’ but, in this case, her bleeding heart is in the right place.

    These Arizona legislators are pretty good at getting sensible legislation passed fast. Trade ya for ours!
    – NO WAY, Patterico! I plan to move back to AZ some day, and I want to return to a state that is at least a halfway tolerable place to live.

    Icy Texan (aff374)

  20. AW:

    Although I respect your comment, Phelp’s church really is only his family and a few other idiots. I doubt any one would waste the time to harm them.

    Ag80 (e03e7a)

  21. The ACLU must be burning the midnight oil tonight trying to save these poor oppressed religious freedom warriors.

    Patricia (3aa1fd)

  22. The WBC has yet to use the ACLU to my knowledge, because the entire family is made up of lawyers.

    Precisely so that they can file lawsuits.

    Scott Jacobs (d027b8)

  23. This might be a little Soviet, but how about picking these guys up for a 48-hour psychiatric hold? Pretty sure the Arizona cops have reviewed that kind of thing recently.

    Kevin M (298030)

  24. You speak as if this were a good thing. Really? It is clearly unconstitutional. However, those picketed should have a right to sue for the harm done to their peace and for their emotional suffering. That should be sufficient to break the Westboro church back to being unable to afford even bus fair to get to picketing sites.

    {^_^}

    jdow (98e9d7)

  25. San Diego County (Coronado) gets the pleasure of the lovely Fred Phelps’ crew on Saturday, for a picketing of The Laramie Project.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  26. Hey, jdow. What part of ‘a private funeral does NOT take place in the public square’ are you stuck on?

    Icy Texan (aff374)

  27. However, those picketed should have a right to sue for the harm done to their peace and for their emotional suffering. That should be sufficient

    that would make the trial lawyers and the ABA and the democrat party happy.

    anything to increase the lawsuits. It most certainly is not sufficient.

    I don’t have the right to protest your family prayer with your kids. Why? Because there is such a thing as your own private affair. I can stand 1000 feet away and wave a sign that you ignore.

    Or, I guess, I could bust into your home and scream at you and your kids, and then you could use the legal system to deal with this. Would that really be sufficient? I don’t think so. I think this is a good common sense comprimise. Phelps still can make his protest, but his rights end at the privacy of the funeral.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  28. “The WBC has yet to use the ACLU to my knowledge”

    The ACLU did, however, file an Amicus brief in support of respondent in Snyder v. Phelps.

    http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/snyder-v-phelps-aclu-amicus-brief

    Dave Surls (a9551c)

  29. While Patriot Riders apologetically declined to attend (their mission is to shield those in uniform), Arizona’s numerous motorcycle clubs are banding together and riding en masse to do the job instead. Between this new law, local citizens groups planning to be shields, and the bike clubs, it would appear the Westboro crew will see their hateful efforts effectively destroyed by the push back of Americans and their glorious wall of love.

    I read someone will dress as angels and use the angel wings to block the funeral guests’ view of the WBC bunch.

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  30. All I can is that I believe the Westboro crowd is guilty of inciting violence. Because if it were my family, friend or respected colleage I don’t know if I could refrain from assaulting them. And I have never done so in my life. Never protested either but something about those smug b*stards just really cranks me up. And it is not their ‘vile rhetoric’ it is location, location, location and timing as well!

    Texas Mom 2012 (cee89f)

  31. Hey all you lovely people have you all lost your sense of reason, this is the funeral of a little girl of 9, she hadnt done anyone wrong, she didnt have political bias, all you lot are shooting off about is how constitutional it is. How constitutional was it to kill this little girl. I think that the people who want to turn her funeral into a circus for their own ends are a disgrace to the whole of America and it’s up to right minded people to stop them, by whatever means.
    What State am I from, I’m from the state of United Kingdom, we dont get it right all the time but we would not put up with this.
    RAY.

    Ray Rowland (ff7919)

  32. Ray;

    What would you have he government do? Arrest all of the Phelps whenever they want to protest? And does it matter what they want to protest? Is the government going to decide what they can protest?

    I admit this is an easy case because a nine year old girl is completely innocent. But so are the other people that have had the Phelps protest their funerals.

    Let them protest and make fools of themselves. Let others counter protest and protect the Green family. Unlike the UK, the US has a 1st Amendment.

    MU789 (6ce96d)

  33. Well, that’s the big difference between the US and UK, isn’t it Rowland – we have a written Constitution which we respect as the most powerful guard against political oppression in the history of humanity… and you have the Magna Carta, and a Parliament whose word is law. Everyone here loathes the Westboro Baptist Church, but we honor our Constitution because to ignore it in the face of popular acclaim for a particular unconstitutional measure is to castrate it, to compromise the integrity of the whole document. And then we’d be England again, and we don’t want that.

    Leviticus (5fb812)

  34. Besides, Rowland, we’re not “putting up with this” – from the sound of it, a great number of private citizens are exercising their Constitutional right to counter-protest the loathsome Westboro cult (which is a wonderful and inspiring thing to see). We just recognize the danger in allowing the government to interfere with or arrest people for saying things it doesn’t like, or even that most people don’t like.

    Leviticus (5fb812)

  35. Ray:

    In the U.S., we were founded on the belief that we were born with certain inalienable rights. The 1st Amendment does give us rights. The 1st Amendment says the government cannot take away our rights to free speech. If we were not allowed to offend people, free speech would not exist.

    MU789 (6ce96d)

  36. Comment by jdow — 1/11/2011 @ 10:35 pm

    Great idea! Christina’s parents and Giffords’ family and all the other survivors can sue Loughner and maybe even the city for failing to provide safety.

    That will solve everything!

    Patricia (3aa1fd)

  37. If you can have quiet zones around hospitals why can’t you have quiet zones around funerals?

    eaglewingz08 (83b841)

  38. If we were not allowed to offend people, free speech would not exist.

    This is a core truth. It’s bugging me too that society has gotten together to make this law only because they are offended by one particular person’s opinions. However, there is a major element beyond speech. This actor is intentionally inflicting distress on mourners.

    That disturbance near funerals seems like something that can be banned for content neutral reasons.

    It’s not like he can no longer protest, but it’s good to let people have peace in this particular location of their funerals.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  39. This doesn’t seem controversial. Free speech zones have been used at political conventions for some time now.

    patrick c (6c4d70)

  40. T/P/M restrictions are held to a lower level of scrutiny than content restrictions.

    Will the Ninth Circuit keep that in mind?

    Michael Ejercito (64388b)

  41. I am glad I posted here, I don’t want government intervention either in your country or in ours, we have had enough intervention from our current government to last a life time.
    I am all for the people to take the matter into their own hands as it seems politicians of all colours live in a different world to us

    Ray Rowland (b6e9a2)

  42. These people call themselves christians,Real christians would’t do what they do.Real christian would give the families the respect and their prayers. The question is Would they protest at Jesus tomb

    D Mosier (25fa78)

  43. D Mosier, they are not christians, they are con artists. The whole thing is a con to allow them to generate lawsuits.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  44. And yeah, they would gladly protest Jesus’s tomb if they could.

    Dustin (b54cdc)


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