Legislation has been signed into law by Governor Jay Nixon (D) that is meant to protect families of fallen Missouri soldiers from protests at funeral services.
House Bill 1372 makes it a class “B” misdemeanor to protest within 300 feet of the site of a funeral within an hour before or after a funeral or burial service. A class “B” misdemeanor carries up to six months in jail. The offense increases to a class “A” misdemeanor for repeat offenders, and could face up to a year in jail.
The restrictions do not apply to a funeral procession outside the 300 foot buffer zone.
The law is based on one that was passed by the City of Manchester and was upheld by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis when a court challenge was brought by Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. It is that organization’s protests that prompted the law’s restrictions.
The bill was passed unanimously by both the House and the Senate.