Lawmakers Moving on New Picketing Bill

By: 13 News
By: 13 News

State lawmakers are pledging to immediately get a funeral picketing law back on the books.

The Kansas Supreme Court Tuesday struck down a key part of the law lawmakers approved last session. The court said a so-called trigger mechanism requiring court approval before the law could take effect violated separation of judicial and legislative powers. It did leave in place a section allowing family members to sue if they feel protesters defamed the dead.

The Court said it was issuing its ruling ahead of its normal May release date so that lawmakers would have a chance to address the issue while they are in session.

Attorney General Steve Six released a statement urging lawmakers to do so.

"It is unfortunate that the Court chose not to sever the statute’s nconstitutional provisions so Kansans would be protected from abusive and offensive funeral protests," Six said. "I urge the Legislature to pass the same substantive protections mmediately. The buffer zones they require are constitutional, and my office stands ready to defend them if they are challenged."

Rep. Raj Goyle, D-Wichita, who sponsored the bill last year, says he's already taking action to get a new measure approved.

“I commend the Kansas Supreme Court for its commitment to due process,” Goyle said in a statement. “However, we went to great lengths to pass legislation that protects First Amendment rights while also protecting military families. I am hopeful the Legislature acts quickly and decisively this month to remedy this legal technicality and protect the families of our fallen heroes."

Do you think it's possible to pass a law that would effectively restrict Phelps family picketing at funerals in Kansas?

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