Saturday, April 20, 2013

Missouri House of Worship Protection Act Upheld

In Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests v. Joyce, (ED MO, April 19, 2013), a Missouri federal district court upheld the constitutionality of Missouri's House of Worship Protection Act. The statute prohibits intentionally and unreasonably disturbing a worship service or intentionally interfering with a person seeking access to a house of worship or exercising religious rights there. The challenge to the law was filed by two groups. One (SNAP) regularly pickets and leaflets outside of churches where clergy alleged to have sexually abused children have served. The other (Call To Action) engages in peaceful vigils outside Catholic churches supporting issues such as LGBT equality and equality for women in the Church.  Granting summary judgment to defendants, the court concluded that the statute is a content-neutral time, place and manner regulation that is neither impermissibly vague nor constitutionally overbroad. (See prior related posting.)

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