Court Strikes Down Funeral Picket Ban

OMAHA (AP) - A federal appeals court has struck down a state law that keeps picketers several hundred feet away from a funeral or memorial service. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a U.S. District Court ruling against members of Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The appeals court relied on its 2008 ruling in a Missouri case that said peaceful protests near funerals are protected by the First Amendment's right to free speech. The opinion came on the appeal of a lawsuit filed by Shirley Phelps-Roper, a member of the Westboro Baptist Church that regularly protests at the funerals of fallen soldiers. Phelps-Roper had asked for a preliminary injunction to stop enforcement of the law, saying it's constitutional.