ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The Constitution says they can do it, but there’s a new battle to stop a Kansas church from protesting military funerals.
Andrea Fujii explains the entire case centers around a Maryland soldier’s funeral.
They’re controversial but their protesting outside military funerals has been ruled constitutional.
“They knew how much it would hurt the family,” said Al Snyder.
Snyder’s son, Matt, was buried while the Westboro Baptist Church chanted and sang hateful messages. Snyder took the issue to the Supreme Court and lost.
This week, Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger suggested a way to restrict the protesting.
“As a member of Congress, I’ve introduced this bill; it will pass the constitutional muster. We’re not dealing with First Amendment rights, we’re just using reasonable restrictions to allow these grieving families to honor their loved ones,” Ruppersberger said.
Protesters would not be allowed near the funeral site for five hours before and after the ceremony. They’d also have to stay 2,500 feet away.
“I agree they have a right to say what they want, but say it over there,” said Spike Schnitzker.
A World War II vet wants to see the protesters disappear, but doesn’t think this new bill will help.
“It’s kind of hiding the protest. They’re still protesting; people know they are. They’re just hiding, is all,” said James Reed. “I don’t think it will do any good.”
“We’re telling you your stinkin’ theater is on fire and we’re going to continue to tell you that. We have not slowed down, thank God, and we will not,” said Margie Phelps, Westboro Baptist Church
“My son and hundreds of thousands of men and women have died to protect freedom of speech and to have a group of 80 people degrade it and mock it is disgusting,” Snyder said.
The bill applies only to military families, even though the Kansas church has protested civilian funerals.
Ruppersberger officially registered the bill Tuesday night and the next step will be a debate.