The Huffington Post reports that Congress has passed a veterans bill that will limit the ability of groups like the Westboro Baptist Church to protest military funerals.
“According to “The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012″…demonstrators will no longer be allowed to picket military funerals two hours before or after a service. The bill also requires protesters to be at least 300 feel away from grieving family members. This aspect of the legislation was introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).”
Sen. Snowe proposed these new limitations on military funeral protests after being inspired to take action by a Frankfort teenager, Zach Parker, after a 2011 Supreme Court case that ruled such demonstrations were protected under the First Amendment.
Snowe’s office released a statement in which Snowe said, “Our nation has a vested interest in honoring those who serve in our armed forces, and this bill achieves that while respecting the intent of the First Amendment to our Constitution.” She also praised the House and Senate “for giving this issue its due consideration.”
The new legislation would also increase civil penalties for anyone who violates the law’s provisions. The bill also contains measures addressing veterans health, housing, benefits, and education. President Obama is expected to sign the legislation later this month.