Porter County Board of Commissioners took a major step Tuesday in
protecting the privacy of grievers as they lay their loved ones to rest at
board voted 3-0 on first reading of an ordinance drafted similarly to a
law in Manchester, Mo., banning funeral protests that was upheld by the
U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
court ruled the Manchester law is not in violation of a citizen’s First
Amendment right of speech because the ordinance is narrowly drafted giving
legitimate time, place and manner where others can express their views,
County Attorney Betty Knight had told the Tribune.
text of the ordnance:
Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish the person’s
sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of the right,
but no person shall picket or engage in other protest activities, nor
shall any association or corporation cause picketing or other protest
activities to occur within three hundred (300) feet of any residence,
cemetery, funeral home, church, synagogue, or other establishment during
or within one (1) hour before or one (1) hour after the conducting of any
actual funeral or burial service at that place.
As used in this Section, “other protest activities” means any action
that is disruptive or undertaken to disrupt or disturb a funeral or burial
As used in this Section, “funeral” and “burial service” mean the
ceremonies and memorial services held in conjunction with the burial or
cremation of the dead, but this Section does not apply to processions
while they are in transit beyond any three hundred (300) foot zone that is
established under Subsection (A) above.
violation of this ordinance can result in a fine of no more than $1,000.00
and/or up to three (3) months imprisonment. Three violations can result in
a mandatory fine of at least $500.00 and imprisonment of at least five (5)
remonstration was lodged against the ban when County Commissioner
President John Evans, R-North, opened the public hearing.
Elkins of Morgan Twp. was the only speaker expressing her support in just
a single remark.
just want to thank you for doing this,” Elkins said, mentioning she had
two sons in the military.
the Manchester law ruling, various local governments throughout the
country have adopted their own ordinances preserving the dignity of
funerals in response to protests made by members of the Westboro Baptist
Church across the country at soldier’s funerals.
Town of Porter last week voted 4-0 to adopt their own ordinance on a final
reading. A similar ban was passed by the Hebron Town Council recently.
final reading of the county’s ordinance will be held at the
Commissioners’ next meeting on April 16 with the public hearing closed.
A second reading is required, Evans said, because the ordinance involves