Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Preliminary Injunction Denied On Missouri Anti-Funeral Picketing Law

In Phelps-Roper v. Nixon, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5783 (WD MO, Jan. 27, 2007), a Missouri federal district court refused to grant a preliminary injunction to prevent Missouri authorities from enforcing the state's anti-funeral picketing law against members of the Westboro Baptist Church who wish to picket funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their signs generally say that God is punishing America for the sin of homosexuality by killing Americans, including soldiers. (See prior posting.) The court found that plaintiff had not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of her claim that the statute is a content-based restriction on speech and that is overbroad and vague. The court also refused to issue a proposed consent judgment filed by one of the defendants, Prosecuting Attorney for Carroll County, Missouri, that would have permanently enjoined enforcement of the statute. Other defendants in the case objected to the consent judgment.