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Appeals court strikes down Missouri town's funeral protest ban

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 | 2:55 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — A federal appeals court has ruled against a Missouri town's funeral protest ordinance, saying peaceful picketing is protected by the right to free speech under the First Amendment.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday upheld a district court ruling in favor of members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan.

The city of Manchester, a St. Louis suburb, adopted an ordinance in 2007 in response to activities by church members, who frequently protest at funerals of members of the military. Church members claim the deaths are God's punishment for American immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

It wasn't clear if Manchester would appeal. Messages left with attorneys for the city were not returned.


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