funeral http://michiganradio.org en Michigan Senate commitee approves update to funeral protest law http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-senate-commitee-approves-update-funeral-protest-law <p>Michigan lawmakers are working&nbsp; to<a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billengrossed/House/pdf/2011-HEBH-4284.pdf"> fine-tune a law</a> intended to protect both freedom of speech and the dignity of military funerals.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.mlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2011/12/senators_say_bill_would_keep_m.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&amp;utm_medium=twitter&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+flint_journal_news+%28Flint+Journal+News+-+MLive.com%29">Grand Rapids Press</a> reports:</p><blockquote><p>The bill on Tuesday cleared the Senate&#39;s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee by a 3-0 margin, with two Democratic senators absent.</p><p>The original law came in response to members of the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, which has staged controversial protests at military funerals. Church members assert that military deaths are God&rsquo;s punishment for tolerance of gays.<br /><br /> Michigan&rsquo;s law keeps such protesters at least 500 feet from a funeral ceremony, but lawmakers have said other people could have been affected &ndash; such as a person parked near a funeral home with an an anti-war bumper sticker on their car, or someone mowing their lawn near a cemetery.</p><p>The new version of the bill which cleared the House would make it clear that the actions must be intended to intimidate, threaten, or harass people attending a funeral, service, viewing, procession, or burial.</p></blockquote><p>The Grand Rapids Press reports that the law is in accordance with a U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Westboro members&#39; rights to conduct their controversial protests.</p><p>-<em>John Klein Wilson, Michigan Radio Newsroom</em> Tue, 06 Dec 2011 20:54:35 +0000 Michigan Radio Newsroom 5271 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan Senate commitee approves update to funeral protest law Unpopular Stands http://michiganradio.org/post/unpopular-stands <p>Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively overturned a Michigan law -- and undoubtedly angered and outraged the vast majority of the nation&rsquo;s citizens.</p><p>The nation&rsquo;s highest court said that the obnoxious protests that members of the Westboro Baptist Church stage at military funerals are&nbsp;fully protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution.</p><p>Chief Justice John Roberts decreed that our nation&rsquo;s fundamental commitment to free speech requires full protection of, quote &ldquo;even hurtful speech on public issues.&rdquo;</p><p>Now if you need reminding, the Westboro Baptist Church is a small group from Topeka, Kansas that mainly consists of the members of one large extended family. They believe homosexuality is evil and America deserves divine punishment for tolerating it.</p><p>Accordingly, they&rsquo;ve been traveling the country picketing at military funerals, waving signs that say things like &ldquo;God Hates America,&rdquo; &ldquo;God Hates Fags,&rdquo; and &ldquo;Thank God for Dead Soldiers.&rdquo;</p><p>Somehow, they believe our war casualties are fitting punishment for tolerance.</p><p>Michigan passed a law five years ago that was squarely aimed at the Westboro group. It essentially prohibited any such conduct within five hundred feet of a funeral.</p><p>But the U.S. Supreme Court ruling essentially makes it all but certain that the Michigan law will be struck down as unconstitutional, if prosecutors attempt to use it.&nbsp; Now ever since the 1960s, conservatives have often complained that out-of-touch liberals on the nation&lsquo;s highest court were improperly distorting the Constitution. Thu, 03 Mar 2011 16:08:11 +0000 Jack Lessenberry 1491 at http://michiganradio.org Unpopular Stands Michigan funeral protest law in jeopardy http://michiganradio.org/post/michigan-funeral-protest-law-jeopardy <p>Michigan&rsquo;s law barring protesters from funerals might be vulnerable after today&rsquo;s ruling by the <a href="http://news.michiganradio.org/post/supreme-court-rules-favor-westboro-funeral-protestors">U.S. Supreme Court</a>.</p><p>The nation&rsquo;s highest court ruled in favor of an anti-gay group that pickets at military funerals.</p><p>Michigan, like dozens of other states, passed a law in 2006 to prevent the protests from disrupting funerals here.</p><p>At the time, the states were trying to prevent a fundamentalist Christian Church from Kansas from picketing military funerals.</p><p>The pickets were not opposing the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, but against gay rights.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.aclu.org/affiliate/michigan">ACLU</a> challenged Michigan&rsquo;s law after a couple attending a family friend&rsquo;s funeral was arrested for having anti-George W. Bush signs on their car.</p><p>Dan Korobkin, with the ACLU, says the new court ruling may be enough to tip the balance in their challenge to Michigan&rsquo;s law:</p><blockquote><p>&ldquo;Laws that are created to stifle unpopular speech, which is what the law in Michigan was created to do, always end up backfiring and punishing innocent people.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p>Korobkin says they hope to hear soon from the federal judge considering their challenge to the state law, &quot;the federal judge who is overseeing that case has already indicated that it is probably unconstitutional, but he hasn&rsquo;t taken the final step of striking it down,&quot; said Korobkin. Wed, 02 Mar 2011 20:38:01 +0000 Steve Carmody 1480 at http://michiganradio.org Michigan funeral protest law in jeopardy