Protesting during funerals now illegal in Missouri
March 01, 2006
Editor's note: This law did not hold up in the courts.

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt today during a ceremonial bill signing lauded Senate Bill 578, also called Spc. Edward Lee Myers Law, which protects mourners’ rights by enacting restrictions on protests at funerals.

"I am pleased that family and friends of the deceased now have this protection from unruly and disrespectful protests during their time of mourning,” Blunt said. “This law preserves the right to free speech for protestors and mourners who peacefully assemble to pay their last respects to their loved ones. I commend the Missouri General Assembly for their prompt action on this bill that honors traditional Missouri values.”

Senate Bill 578 makes it illegal for any person or group to engage in protest within one hour before and one hour following any funeral service. Individuals who violate the law are guilty of a Class B misdemeanor on the first offense and a Class A misdemeanor on subsequent offenses.

The legislation was passed in response to a protest in August 2005 in St. Joseph at the funeral of Spc. Edward Myers. Myers died in service to his country while serving in Iraq.

“The families of our military heroes should be able to mourn the loss of their loved one in peace,” Blunt said.

The legislation contained an emergency clause and took effect on Thursday, Feb 23, 2006, when acting governor Sen. Michael Gibbons signed the bill with Blunt’s consent.

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Testing the right to assemble on public propertymariwinn147902006-03-02 23:26:00