Outrageous Judge: Extreme Anti-Gay Group Can Destroy Flag at Soldiers' Funerals
A federal judge ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church's constitutional right to desecrate the American flag outside the funerals of fallen U.S. service members.
The protesters often stand on the flag, spit on it or drag it across the ground while shouting homophobic slurs.
U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt ruled that state laws forbidding flag desecration were unconstitutional after the ACLU brought legal action.
Pratt referred to a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that labeled flag burning as protected speech.
"Conduct involving the American flag has long been recognized by the United States Supreme Court as expressive communication that falls within the protection of the First Amendment," Pratt wrote. "Here, (church members mishandle) the flag during protests and demonstrations in order to express the message that the flag has become an idolatrous symbol. ... Such use of the flag is plainly expressive conduct that is protected by the First Amendment."
GOP State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann reacted on "Fox and Friends" this morning, arguing that the First Amendment should not be used to protect the anti-gay group's inflammatory actions.
He said one of the laws makes it a crime to destroy a flag in order to incite or provoke another person. Kaufmann said Westboro's actions clearly violate this law and that the judge is in the "super-minority" by overturning it.
Kaufmann said state lawmakers are looking into narrowing the law's language so it will hold up to further legal scrutiny.
"When you are using the burning of the flag to incite violence, you are no longer protected under the First Amendment. I think legislatively, that's the path we can take to fix this decision," said Kaufmann.
He called out the Westboro Baptist Church as nothing but "verbal domestic terrorists."
"I’m a strong supporter of the First Amendment, but I think there’s clear cases where there’s exceptions. ... And when you use your words and you spit on the American Flag at the funeral of a fallen soldier while shouting anti-gay slurs, you’re sure to incite violence and therefore you’re no longer protected under the 1st Amendment."