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July 23, 2006
ACLU To Fred Phelps' Rescue

We have yet another reason to despise the American Civil Liberties Union. They have decided to act on behalf of the "Reverend" Fred Phelps and his gang of gay-baiting haters, claiming that a Missouri law that bans picketers at military funerals violates their right to free speech:

A Kansas church group that protests at military funerals nationwide filed suit in federal court, saying a Missouri law banning such picketing infringes on religious freedom and free speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. District Court in Jefferson City, Mo., on behalf of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church, which has outraged mourning communities by picketing service members' funerals with signs condemning homosexuality. ...

The law bans picketing and protests "in front of or about" any location where a funeral is held, from an hour before it begins until an hour after it ends. Offenders can face fines and jail time.

A number of other state laws and a federal law, signed in May by President Bush, bar such protests within a certain distance of a cemetery or funeral.

In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the Missouri law tries to limit protesters' free speech based on the content of their message. It is asking the court to declare the ban unconstitutional and to issue an injunction to keep it from being enforced, which would allow the group to resume picketing.

Missouri says that it will "not ... acquiesce to anything they're asking for," which means that the ACLU will get the fight they've helped pick. The law, however, appears reasonable and within the bounds of the First Amendment. It does not ban picketing altogether, nor does it make any distinction based on message. The law balances the right of speech with the maintenance of the peace for military funerals -- and the government can make the case that the state has an interest in protecting such events from being exploited by disinterested third parties. Missouri set specific limits to the ban, including reasonable distances and time apart from the funeral.

Phelps and his band of protestors are despicable creatures. Their bile-filled rants and signs have no business at anyone's funeral, let alone those who have fallen in service of their nation. People with souls would understand that the family and friends of the dead need to have these final moments with their loved ones and not have that stolen from them by ghouls who want to get media attention for their mindless hatred. That anyone would defend these practices amazes me. That the ACLU has decided to champion their cause, unfortunately, does not.

Defenders of the ACLU will proclaim this as proof of their dedication to free speech, but that's nonsense. The ACLU does not take every case that has free-speech implications, let alone Constitutional issues. Fred Phelps could get a lawyer on his own; the ACLU and its donors have no obligation to assist him in mocking the loss of family members at funerals. The ACLU has put itself on par with these soulless freaks, and their donors should take note that their money now supports the Phelps traveling hate show.

UPDATE: The Florida Masochist says I'm being inconsistent -- and he has a point. I did argue against similar legislation earlier as an infringement on free speech. The lawsuit may turn out to have a point. However, the ACLU still does not need to take this case; it doesn't take every free-speech case that comes along, and their support of the Phelps crowd is despicable. Let Fred Phelps find his own lawyer; his kids could handle the case pro bono.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 23, 2006 1:25 PM

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» Lie Down With Dogs from Blue Crab Boulevard
Get up with fleas as the old saying goes. The ACLU is suing the state of Missouri on behalf of the Westboro cult. They contend that a ban on picketing at funerals passed by Missouri lawmakers is unconstitutional on freedom of religion and fre... [Read More]

Tracked on July 23, 2006 6:09 PM

» ACLU and Westboro Hate Cult Challenge Missouri Protest Ban from Stop The ACLU
Once again we come to the debate over whether we should limit speech that infringes upon the rights of others. I have expressed how I feel about this determined hate cult before, so suffice it to say I think they are ignorant and filled with hate. T... [Read More]

Tracked on July 23, 2006 10:04 PM

» Why the ACLU Is Defending Fred Phelps from Adam's Blog
The ACLU is defending Fred Phelps against laws that bar pickets at military funerals in Missouri where the Phelps clan would love to be out in force. Captain Ed is puzzled by the whole thing: Defenders of the ACLU will proclaim this as proof of thei... [Read More]

Tracked on July 23, 2006 11:18 PM

» ACLU Sues on Behalf of Anti-Gay Protestors from
The ACLU has proven that they are more anti-military than they are pro gay by filing a lawsuit on behalf of a group of anti-gay protestors that have been showing up at military funerals around the country. KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Kansas church group... [Read More]

Tracked on July 24, 2006 8:06 AM

» Despicable but....... from The Florida Masochist
The ACLU is just coming to support anyone's first ammendment rights Who is to say what speech and assembly is right. Phelps is not creating a danger in what he does. Its not a matter of yelling fire in a crowded building. So he has a right to do w... [Read More]

Tracked on July 24, 2006 8:54 PM

» The ACLU and Fred Phelps, Part II from Merri Musings
Earlier a commenter had a question about which judge would be hearing the case filed by the ACLU on behalf of Fred Phelps’ organization, a.k.a. “Westboro Baptist Church.” As I was scouring around the internets, a post stood out over ... [Read More]

Tracked on July 24, 2006 11:19 PM


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