TIMONIUM, Md. (AP) — Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger says he plans to introduce legislation to prevent protests during military funerals. 

The Baltimore County congressman says the bill is in response to a recent Supreme Court decision that funeral protests are permitted under the First Amendment. 

Ruppersberger says the bill seeks to allow groups like the Westboro Baptist Church to exercise their right to free speech without disrupting funerals or forcing funeral participants to encounter protesters. 

Ruppersberger plans to announce the bill Tuesday at the Linthicum Veterans Memorial in Linthicum. 

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (16)
  1. D.B. Lawrence says:

    Good for Dutch. My opinion is groups like Westboro need to be restricted from demonstrating at the funerals of our fallen soldiers.

    1. ascendance says:

      why not funerals period?

  2. Donald says:

    Group’s like westboro need to be shut down. Lets protested at one of the families Funerals and see how they like it. I beatany amount of money that they would have you arrested. Its not a church its a cult.

  3. ben says:

    The only problem with this is that this “church” was already exercising its right to free speech without disrupting funerals. They were in an area designated by the local police for their demonstration. This congressman can get the distance they have to be from the funeral increased but that won’t do anything. You can’t just make a law that says no protesting at funerals because that is inherently unenforceable. The terms “at a funeral” and “protesting” are way too broad to be enforceable. As I am writing this, the other two comments are definitely “protests” and there is probably a funeral going on somewhere right now.

    1. MM says:

      The church/religion would invade a mourner’s privacy, and ridicule the grieving in an attempt to desecrate the grave. They disrespect the rights of a citizen to bury their own dead. The citizens should be able to invite a church service of their choosing if, and only if, they wish this service. To have citizens of a religion/church foreign to the greiving citizen(s) use their tragedy for personal gain is an unimaginable invasion of privacy. I thought there was a separation of ‘Church and State’ somewhere in our constitution. Any religion/church should not have the ‘free speech’ right to bully a citizen they have targeted. Any citizen should not have to be compliant to the exploitative nature of any religion who wishes to invade their privacy, for their own personal gain, especially if that church/religion is foreign to them. Let me guess, every time that ‘church’ wishes to exploit any grieving citizen, they pass the plate. Their congregation is paying for another field trip just to hurt more citizens while they grieve.
      The fact that the Westboro ‘church’ used the burial of a fallen soldier for their personal gain is contemptible. Can our country protect our fallen soldiers in death, if not in life? The ‘church/’religion’ in question offers villification, and exploitation, not compassion nor acceptance. What kind of ‘church’ is that? How can this be legal?

    2. melmintz says:

      you are absolutely . The only solution is a constitutioonal amendment guranteeing a right to privacy. Funerals can be consider a private matter

  4. Mary C. says:

    I think the bill should include ALL funerals, but I fear that it will just be declared unconstitutional. However, somehow I had missed the fact that the Westboro people were still being raucous..I had thought that the fact that local police had restricted them to a certain area meant that their noise level was also restricted. Isn’t disturbing the peace still a misdemeanor?

  5. kass says:

    protest outside their sunday services and see how they like it. wbc, just drink the damn kool-aid already.

  6. Mary P - Brooklyn says:

    How about a law covering ALL funerals? Granted, free speech is a right, but but it also seems proper that a funeral service should not be disrupted, regardless of who died.

    If the law only addresses military funerals, it would not cover protesters who show up because the person who died was a child molester, a member of a certain gang, a skin head or whatever. I really could care less about criminals, but their families do deserve to bury them w/o disruption.

  7. jimmy says:

    Anything to stop these idiot WBC radicals from protesting at all. What ever it takes to shut them up. They are pure evil.

  8. Herman Glimsher says:


  9. T. Reibert says:

    The idiots just want attention. If the media would ignore them, and we blocked them from disturbing the peace that the mourners deserve, they will disappear into the black hole where they belong. I don’t understand why we just don’t block them from view (semi’s, firetrucks, large tarps used at crime scenes) along the funeral route.Once they get the message that their hurtful voices and signs are being seen and heard, they’ll go away.

  10. Billy says:

    I think that this law should be for all funerals and leave all these people in Peace. Just make a law that will not let these people 2500 feet from the ( Graveyad ) not the grave site. And not like the jaywalking law that no one pays any mind to make this one stick because I’m sure a fallen Police Officer’s family won’t like drug dealers to picket there funeral.

  11. Jane says:

    Baltimore County already passed such a bill in 2005. Councilman Gardina introduced the bill that restricts the location of the protesters and keeps them from interfering with the funeral.

  12. petfriend says:

    What these people do is more like a hate crime than a protest. It is more similar to burning crosses and painting swatstikas than protesting. They are not protesting that their rights are being witheld, or that a law in some way prohibits their religion as the constitution was intended to protect our right to do. They are screaming how much they hate people who aren’t exactly like them. Why do we even allow that to be called a protest, rather than a hate crime? I agree that the media needs to stop covering them during their antics.

  13. bernard F Mc Kernan says:

    Go Dutch, kick some dic. Get those reelection votes big boy.

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