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Obama Signs Act Limiting Military Funeral Protests

The "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012" will place restrictions on when protesters may appear at military funerals.

In a move sure to inflame First Amendment tensions, President Barack Obama has signed into law an act that will limit the activities of persons wishing to protest military funerals.

The "Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012" requires groups that are protesting military funerals to restrict their activities to two hours before and two hours after the funeral itself.

The act seems to fly in the face of the Supreme Court decision in Snyder v. Phelps, where the Court ruled 8-1 that the Westboro Baptist Church, a religious organization that pickets military funerals because of America's acceptance of homosexuality, is protected under the First Amendment to perform their demonstrations.

"I think [the act] is great," said Bob Weatherford, a member of Georgia's Patriot Guard Riders. "I was surprised Obama signed it, especially considering the Supreme Court decision last year."

The Patriot Guard, which was born out of the desire to protect the families of fallen service members from the protesters of military funerals, has transitioned to honoring and respecting military members and their families as the protection mission has tapered off.

Protection is still a large priority for the group, however; according to Weatherford, 50,000 people joined the Patriot Guard Riders in the week after the Snyder decision.

Some local citizens are already coming out on both sides of this contentious issue.

On the Northeast Cobb Patch Facebook page Nicki Merck wrote, "I am totally against people demonstrating at military funerals but I am also against this man we call President violating our constitutional rights because this will end up being a lot more than just military funerals." 

Is this act in violation of the First Amendment? Or is it about time the government stepped in to curtail protests at military funerals? Tell us in the comments!

Dan August 08, 2012 at 08:57 PM
This is definitely a First Amendment issue. That "church" (and I use the term loosely) and it's members will just feed on this new controversy, making things even more disruptive at funerals. And I'm not so sure that some of the soldiers that gave their lives defending the First Amendment, among others, will appreciate it either.
Thomas Wayne Shelton August 08, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Our rights are fading fast ... I certainly dont agree with the actions of the few people involved in the demonstrations but it is their right to do so.
Jake Lilley August 09, 2012 at 02:54 AM
There is no greater dishonor than to cast aside the very rights for which these brave men and women sacrificed their lives. “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the CONSTITUTION of the United States against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Maria E Greener August 09, 2012 at 06:14 PM
One group's right to demonstrate should not override another group's right to grieve, pay their respects, and bury their loved one in peace. A funeral is an end of life's ritual, wherein we demonstrate our humanity, compasion, and respect for the deceased and their family. It says something about the deterioration of civility that this bill even had to be created. By signing this bill, the President is not preventing these protesting groups from exercising their right to demonstrate. As Commander in Chief, he is protecting and preserving the privacy rights of grieving Military families from being harassed DURING the burial processions of our soldiers killed in action. For that...I applaud "this man we call President." Maria Greener
Jake Lilley August 09, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Maria, If we adopt this philosophy as you described, then the law should be applied equally and to all funerals, not just a select few. Unfortunately, the implementation of laws under the "guise" of patriotism, well-intended as they may be, often results in the creation of a category of people who are granted rights, privileges or protections not afforded to others. Patriotism, as I know it is a voluntary act; and with it comes honor. When we legislate "patriotism," patriotic it ceases to be. The best way to honor these brave men and women is to uphold the principles for which they gave their lives.
Jake Lilley August 10, 2012 at 02:34 AM
"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government." ~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
lee Turner August 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Let's stop automatically using the word "brave" with "soldier". There's nothing brave about killing foreigners on demand just because politicians have declared war on another country. Do a Google search on Fred Reed, a Vietnam vet who frequently writes about the evil of the military and their mind-conditioning which turns ordinary young men (mostly) into mindless, robotic killers. Here's a sample - http://lewrockwell.com/reed/reed212.html. The truly brave men and women are those (very) few who speak out against the many, many atrocities perpetrated by our own government. You Sofa Samurais never venture beyond what the mainstream media (the presstitutes) feed you. It's much easier to be part of the majority and to keep on believing that Might Makes Right and that God is on our side. That's kidstuff.
Bonnie Jordan August 16, 2012 at 11:45 AM
If your child or husband was killed in a car accident, would you like for people to protest 'at the funeral' ? Consider how upset and emotionally drained and you would be, still in shock. Now explain to me, why a soldiers family should have any less consideration than an accident victim. There are many places these idiots can go wave their little signs and shout their warnings about the war and the killing. A funeral for one of our soldiers, is not one of them. If you don't want to consider a fallen soldier a hero, then so be it, but the family, and those of us that do consider him or her a hero, do not want your disruption at the memorial for that lost life. When our soldiers returned from Vietnam they were never given the homor and recognition for doing their job, shame on our Nation for that. I proudly support every person in our Military for their sacrifice and I am proud to be an American, The little flag and sign wavers who want to punish the grieving family should reach in their hearts and put themselves in the shoes of that family. Karma can be an ugly thing.
Dan August 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
"A funeral is an end of life's ritual, wherein we demonstrate our humanity, compasion, and respect for the deceased and their family. It says something about the deterioration of civility that this bill even had to be created." Maria, let's not forget that there's nothing human, compassionate, respectful or civil about WBC and their tactics.
Dan August 16, 2012 at 02:06 PM
Bonnie, there could be a few protests to raise their voice against wars and killing. However, those people, generally, have some respect for funerals and grieving family members. The protesters that this Act tries to silence are mostly those of a small group of anti-gay people from Westboro "Baptist" "Church" who somehow think what they're doing is ok. It's not, but that shouldn't prevent them from doing so, unfortunately in this case.

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