ACLU looks to block ban of protests at funerals

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio is asking a federal judge to block a new law prohibiting protests or picketing within 300 feet of funerals.

The law, whic h goes into effect Monday, is too broad and would cause confusion, said Jeffrey Gamso, legal director for the ACLU of Ohio.

"If a political group wanted to have a demonstration on Main Street and a funeral procession was driving by, they would not be permitted to continue, even if the protest has nothing to do with the funeral," he said. "That is clearly too strict and would severely limit free speech."

House Bill 484, sponsored by Rep. John Boccieri, a New Middletown Democrat and Air Force Reserve major, was passed in response to the growing number of protests at military funerals, particularly by demonstrators affiliated with the Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.

"I think they�re totally misguided on this," Boccieri said of the ACLU, a group he often agrees with. "It does nothing to curb the content of the speech. It just respects the privacy of a family that wants to grieve."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, asks Judge Donald Nugent to block the law with a preliminary injunction.

No comments:

Post a Comment