Many argue that the ACLU is too liberal while a growing group are starting to complain that it is too libertarian. Whichever view you take, the Reverend Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church are the last people one would expect to be supported by that organization. Stop the ACLU reports that the ACLU is going to be defending the fag haters:
In Tennessee the Senate just passed a bill that requires a 500-foot buffer zone between a funeral, burial or funeral procession and its protesters. Those that come closer than 500 feet could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, punishable up to six months in jail and a $500 fine. Other states as nearby as Kentucky and Missouri agree. Those states have already passed new laws limiting protests at funerals.
Of course the ACLU are claiming the bill is unconstitutional.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been lobbying against Black’s bill, saying the measure violates Americans’ First Amendment rights.
“Even speech that is cruel, distasteful and upsetting is protected by the First Amendment,” said Hedy Weinberg, the executive director of ACLU of Tennessee. “The best answer to this speech is not speech restrictions, but more speech.”
Weinberg said the bill, while “well intentioned,” could have unintended side effects that would make it illegal, for example, to protest within 500 feet of the funeral of a person who died while in police custody.
As much as I despise Phelps and his message, the ACLU is absolutely correct to champion free speech rights.