Court Pulls the Trigger

The very trick lawmakers used to protect themselves is sending them back to square one. It took two sessions of discussion before the Kansas Legislature agreed on language for a law limiting picketing at funerals. Meantime, dozens of other states pushed through legislation in the face of demonstrators showing up at funerals for soldiers killed in Iraq. Kansas lawmakers, though, took the slow, cautious road. "We've been through this before," they said, referring to years of dealings with Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, a group known for its pickets. "We've paid them money when the courts found laws and ordinances too restrictive. We don't want to do that again." So, last session, they passed a law restricting picketing at funerals, but included a caveat meant to avoid any payouts - the law wouldn't take effect until the courts ruled it constitutional. It seemed like a good idea - until Tuesday, when the Kansas Supreme Court ruled the so-called "trigger mechanism" violated separation of powers of the judicial and legislative branches. That puts the issue back in the hands of the legislature. Brandi Sacco, the widow of a soldier killed in Iraq, called a radio talk show hours after the ruling and called the situation frustrating. I imagine lawmakers will echo her feelings, because the law is likely to end up in court anyway once the trigger is removed.

You can read the Court's ruling in the case here:

http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/supct/2008/20080311/98691.htm

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