It takes a hell of a good reason to limit the First Amendment.
|Flickr via Philip Leara|
|Protesting outside the Cathedral Basilica? A federal court says the First Amendment has your back. |
Flexible and elegant, its provisions uphold the rights of people praying to their preferred God in their preferred house of worship, while at the same time ensuring that a pack of blasphemers can picket on the sidewalk outside.
These broad powers of free speech work well most of the time, which is why regulating the First Amendment, as former Missouri GOP Representative Rob Meyer tried to do in 2012, can turn out to be very tricky business. Signed into the law at the time by Governor Jay Nixon, Meyer's House of Worship Protection Act criminalized "using profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior...as to disturb the order and solemnity of the worship services."
On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit ruled that the law is too vague, too broad and too subjective -- basically, it conflicts with the First Amendment. The decision follows legal challenges from ACLU of Missouri and SNAP, the St. Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a group that regularly protests outside churches. More »