From BreitBart.com (AP story):
Portions of a new Kentucky law intended to prevent protesters from disrupting funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq are unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.
The ACLU argues that sections of the law go too far in limiting freedom of speech and expression.
Members of the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church have protested at military funerals in several states. The church claims the soldiers’ deaths are a sign of God punishing America for tolerating homosexuality.
The new law, signed by Gov. Ernie Fletcher in March, bans protests within 300 feet of memorial services, wakes and burials. Violators can be charged with first-degree disorderly conduct, punishable by up to a year in jail…
This is somewhat rare and distasteful: I agree with the ACLU on this matter as stated in this article. This is an issue of free speech, a fundamental right guaranteed by the First Amendment. It goes beyond the repugnant message and despicable antics of Fred Phelps and his anti-Christian sycophants and is one of the very freedoms these fallen soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of. I doubt this comes as much of a surprise to anyone here who has read my previous opposition to similar proposed legislation in other states.
Brett Hall, the spokesman for Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher, is quoted on the Governor’s behalf stating:
“The public should respect their dignity in a very difficult time, that’s why this law was passed. It’s inconceivable why anyone would want to protest at a military funeral while family members are there.”
I certainly agree with Mr. Hall that the families of these slain soldiers, and indeed the memory of the soldiers themselves, deserve respect and dignity particularly during such a time of mourning, yet even at these times the freedoms these servicemembers defended cannot be set aside. Make no mistake in that I hold Phelps, his group, and Bart McQueary, the Kentucky man who filed suit with the help of the ACLU against this law, in complete and utter contempt. However, these idiots are entitled as Americans to the same rights and freedoms each one of us enjoys. Of course it goes without saying that so do the Patriot Guard Riders, Protest Warriors, and anyone else who wishes to support these families and oppose this miserable bunch. In fact, if I may be so bold, perhaps those people nearby Topeka, Kansas, objecting to Phelps’ protests of military funerals should exercise their free speech rights at that lair of hatred, the Westboro Baptist Church located at 3701 W. 12th Street. It would be interesting to see how these folks enjoy having their services disrupted by folks taking a page from their book and freely expressing themselves quite loudly.