Oct 16, 2:36 PM EDT
Appeals court: Town can restrict funeral protests
By JIM SALTER
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A St. Louis suburb can enforce a funeral protest ordinance aimed at preventing picketing by an anti-gay Kansas church, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling reverses a previous ruling by a three-judge panel of the court. The panel ruling last year prohibited the St. Louis County town of Manchester, Mo., from enforcing the law it drafted in response to activities by members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church.
A lawsuit claiming the Manchester ordinance violated the First Amendment right to free speech was filed by Shirley Phelps-Roper, a Westboro member and daughter of pastor Fred Phelps.
Members of the church frequently protest at funerals of soldiers with signs containing messages like "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Thank God for 9/11," claiming the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.