On April 3, 2008, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius signed the Kansas Funeral Privacy Act into law. The legislation banned protests within 150 feet of a funeral in the one hour before, during, and two hours after the end of the service. The law was passed in response to the picketing of military funerals by members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who claim that the US soldiers killed in combat is retribution for American toleration of homosexuality. Members of the church have sparked similar state government reactions in Arizona, where an emergency bill was passed in January 2011 to prevent a Westboro protest at the funeral of Christina Green a 9-year-old-girl killed in the shooting that injured Representative Gabrielle Giffords that same month. In March 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled in Snyder v. Phelps that the First Amendment free speech protections extend to protesters at military funerals.
Learn more about the Westboro Baptist Church from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the privacy issues involved in these types of protests from JURIST Guest Columnist Christina Wells in Forum.