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Kansas governor signs new law banning funeral picketing

[JURIST] Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius [official website] Thursday signed legislation [press release] that bans protests within 150 feet of a funeral one hour before, during and two hours after the end of a service. The Kansas funeral privacy act [PDF text; supplemental note, PDF] also prohibits impeding a procession by obstructing a public street or sidewalk. A similar law was struck down [JURIST report] by the Kansas Supreme Court in March. The court ruled that the previous law's judicial trigger provision [JURIST report], which said the law could not be enforced until it was declared constitutional by a state or federal court, invalidated the entire law as it would make the courts an "advisory panel" to the legislature. The new law does not contain the provision.

The law was passed in response to picketing at military funerals by members of the Westboro Baptist Church [WARNING: readers may find material at this church website offensive; JURIST news archive], who claim that US soldiers have been killed because America tolerates homosexuals. At least 37 other states have passed similar laws in response to the group, and a federal law [JURIST report] restricting protests at Arlington National Cemetery and other federal cemeteries has also been passed. AP has more.

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