Rubio sponsoring bill to limit protests at military funerals

Marco Rubio is sponsoring a bill called the Serve Act that will in effect limit protesters like Westboro Baptist Church from disrupting military funerals. Fox News is reporting the following limitations it will create:

  • 2 hour quiet time before/after funerals
  • 350ft buffer around funeral service
  • 500ft buffer around access routes to funeral service
  • Increased penalties for violations of new law

Here’s the clip:

I for one agree with it. I understand free speech but military families have a right to grieve in peace just as protesters have a right to protest. If someone’s rights must be limited, it must in this case be the protesters.

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  • I despise the nut jobs from Westboro. But let me be the objectivist. Glenn Beck is apposed to this. Why? If we can limit these nut jobs people on the Left could use the same thinking to limit the Tea Parties. Not good.

    Be ware unintended consequences.

    Hate me now, believe me later.

    • Agree in full.

      Plus here’s another question: why is Rubio wanting the Federal government to set standards of what is permitted at military funerals? And why only military funerals? The WBC hasn’t protested or threatened to protest only military funerals. They threatened to protest the funeral for Christina Taylor Green, among other civilians.

      They’re going to all this trouble to limit specifically one group — the law may be somewhat generic but the intended target is quite specific.

      The essence of the First Amendment is this: I may not like what you have to say or the means you choose to say it, but that doesn’t give me the right to limit your ability to say it.

      • Well said. Rolling Thunder is attending military funerals and launching counter protests against the whack jobs from Westboro. That is the American way.

        • Amen, Nick.

          FREEDOM is the American way.

      • One other thing to add to this as well. The Constitution protects our right to speak and assembly. We have a right to protest our government and speak out against our government. The military is an arm of the government, so Rubio’s attempt to limit the ability to protest near military funerals is an attempt to limit the ability of the people to protest the government.

        I agree with others who have said that people *should* show respect for the deceased, not just those killed in action. However the law should not be used as a blunt means of forcing people to respect funerals.

        • I agree. This is an assault on free speech. It’s well intended, but it’s still an attack on free speech.

          When you consider how heavily our courts/judges rely on precedent, this would be the ultimate “Pandora’s Box”.

        • Dailywalk365

          You are wrong. A funeral is not an arm of the government. It never has been and never will be. It is as personal as your relationship as you to your family and God. Government has absolutely nothing to do with it.

          • KeninMontana

            You need to read this again if you haven’t recently,”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The government is trying to regulate the exercise of free speech with this law which the First Amendment prohibits them from doing,no matter how well intentioned. While I loathe the WBC and abhor what they do they have the right to express it. That said, cemeteries are in most cases private property and it is against the law in most states to inhibit the movement of the funeral procession,so there are legal remedies such as TRO’s available. I for one as a Marine Veteran would proudly stand with Rolling Thunder or the Patriot Wall to insure the families are shielded from these people.

      • Anonymous

        Why didn’t Rubio join Jim DeMint’s Senate TEA Party Caucus ? Things that make you go HMMM….The next post that declares Rubio ready for Potus; I’m gonna shriek. Follow the DEEDS, not the rhetoric…

        • It’s similar to what I said in another forum in response to comments by Rep. Bachmann in which she laid out all of these nice plans she had for the new congressional session. This was my response:

          “Madam Representative, instead of telling us ahead of the Congressional session what you’re going to do, how about doing it, then come back to us in a month or so telling us what you have done. Let your actions earn you political points, not your intentions.”

    • do tea partiers go as far as to bother funeral goers? no… completely different issue. you can’t equate the two.

      • No. It sets a precident and they just keep expanding it until it’s out of control.

        Famous last words: “Oh no. We will NEVEr have a higher tax rate than 10%.”

    • The toughest thing about freedom of speech is defending it when you disagree with the speech. This would indeed be a slippery slope

      • Amen!

      • No doubt. If this became law in the Age of Obama, how many ways could Holder & the rest of Obama’s inner circle abuse it? Who would be next?

    • Dailywalk365

      We can’t say it’s ok to do this or that, what ever we think is free speech. There has to be a line in the sand when free speech has gone to far and actually violates another persons personal rights. The sole purpose of these idiots at westboro is to do only one thing and thats to incite and agitate. My Father who is in Heaven has nothing to do with what these morons are doing. They are no better then the New Black Panthers. They exist only to hate, no other reason.

    • Poptoy1949

      You do make a good point !

  • sDee

    Fan the flames of a “crisis” or moral indignation in the media then step in with yet more regulation and legislation to “protect” us.

    These people are sick I say let the vet, biker and patriot groups handle them. Free speech and right to assemble are crucial to freedom.

    Legislation like this may seem like the “high road” but it is the crack in the dam for the next politician who thinks his/her cause is so righteous that a Constitutional exception be made.

    I was at the big Tea Party rallies in DC and we accused of all manner of offensive behavior by Pelosi and the Black Caucus. Who Mr. Rubio, gets to decide what is offensive?

    Rubio is showing his Progressive side again. He flashed it before on amnesty.

    • K~Bob

      I have been critical of Rubio before. He has kept his distance from the Tea Party movement, for example.

      But this is not progressivism.

  • Jackyl

    The Cloward and Piven leftists will only target protests containing conservative speech as they are trying to enact laws to allow unelected regulators to police free speech. The “PC” cops can then just spin conservative speech as “hate” speech and leftist speech as “kind” speech in support of ones fellow man.

    In short, its dangerous to regulate anything, but if the Amerikan public does not wake from their coma, it won’t matter anyway.

  • sDee

    Or, to put it more succinctly…….



    (yes, all caps means I am yelling. I am sick of politians – red ones and blue ones)

  • Freedomovertyranny

    You say you understand free speech but apparently you do not. Our constitution gives us the right of free speech. At any place and at any time. There are no qualifiers. On the flip side, the right to grieve in peace is not mentioned in our Constitution or Bill of Rights. If you begin limiting free speech for specific events or reason (which incidentally is what Lindsey Graham is arguing except he wants to limit it becuase we are at war), then free speech is not free and is not being protected.

    I do not think what these protesters are doing is in good taste or good judgement. And though I dont condone their actions. I shudder to think of the slippery slope you go down by banning them from this right. People SHOULD respect the grieving families during this time but unfortunately that does not mean they will. So while i find their actions reprehensible, I hope they continue to speak (or protest as the case may be) freely as a testament to our nations acceptance of free speech no matter how much we disagree with it.

    We must never sacrifice the right of free speech simply becuase someone uses it distastefully.

    Shame on Rubio for wearing the “conservative” mantle while trying to systematically chip away at our first amendment. Then he tries to justify it by saying he is doing it to protect the feelings of the military families. What a joke! Rubio has joined the DC crowd in their attacks on our basic constitutional rights.

    • “I may not like what you have to say, but, God willing, I’ll defend till death your right to say it!”

    • sDee

      And the Supreme Court made the correct but unpopular decision in favor of Westboro.

      So Rubio like most pols who think the Constitution is their private Chinese menu, just writes a law to bypass it.

      • If you really think you have free speech, just go and take it to zer0 at some campaign stop. They’ll show you right quick just how far your rights extend.

    • Our Constitution RECOGNIZES rights we are born with. It doesn’t GIVE US ANYTHING.

    • K~Bob

      You absolutely do not have the right to come on my property and “say” anything.

      I don’t care if you use actual vocal speech, or just want to carry a sign.

      So much for any place at any time.

  • I can’t believe they still have the “Baptist” affiliation in the church name. They are not Baptists as best I can say, being a Baptist. Seem more like ecumenical troublemakers to me.

  • Disagree with any limits on speech. Conservatives should know better with all the targeting this administration has done against FNC, talk radio hosts, and the internet.

  • If the Westboro freaks create an atmosphere of terror, thus infringing upon the free assembly rights of the mourners, then the freaks themselves are in fact in violation by denying the mourners their constitutional rights to free assembly.

    People say “free speech” of the Westboro freaks when this issue is brought up, but they never mention the free assembly rights of the mourners that are trampled by the Westboro freaks and their intimidation tactics.

    Slippery slope, yes yes I get it, but practically every law on the books is a slippery slope in some way. A strict interpretation would yield that “yelling fire in crowded theater,” would be protected which makes no sense because it puts people in imminent verifiable danger. But, other speech puts people in danger as well and we don’t haul people off to jail for it because the consequences are more nebulous.

    Finally, from what I can see Rubio is not even talking about shutting them down and preventing them from speaking. He is just saying they must be a certain distance away as to not infringe upon the rights of the mourners.

    • K~Bob

      Exactly. Folks need to remember the old adage:

      “Your right to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose.”

      I would add, it ends at any point where I deem it will eventually intersect with my nose. Thank God for the Second Amendment.

    • great point.

  • K~Bob

    Get yer own soapbox, Freddy.

    The First Amendment is not a right to use another person’s event for your speech.

    If such were the case, then no freedom of speech would exist. It would simply be the freedom to overpower.

    Your own instance of speech should not interfere with another man’s First Amendment rights, even if his exercise thereof is the silent dignity of a funeral.

    The First Amendment guarantees a right to create your own event, in a place allowed by law (the commons, your property, property you rent, property you have permission to use). It protects you from the government’s interference once you establish your right to occupy that place, provided you obey all other laws while doing so. (E.G., You can’t sacrifice a goat and call it freedom of speech if you violate laws controlling the safe handling of animals, animal slaughter, and codes of occupancy restricting animals.)

    Ad hoc instances of speech (chance encounters in the street) are not a major problem with this concept, because clearly, a group carrying signs, bullhorns, and walking together is a de facto “demonstration,” and should obtain all normal permissions, just as the hot dog vendors and sidewalk performers do. If you are preaching on the sidewalk and a cop tells you to “move along,” you had better move along. (No, cops aren’t always right.)

    A flash mob that moves in and overpowers a legal demonstration event is violating the disrupted demonstrators’ First Amendment guarantee. It becomes an assault on liberty. A legal demonstration on the Courthouse lawn must not be interfered with by another legal demonstration on the streets, adjacent (see Wisconsin, Madison).

    [The City of Madison forced Tea Party protesters to walk a gauntlet made by the “union” protesters. That was an assault on the Tea Party members’ liberty. It was poor planning by the City, and created an unnecessary danger. (It was however, very reminiscent of the Selma marchers down south, and has become a badge of courage for those who were forced to walk it.)]

    [[Regarding “loudness:” One Tea Party commenter (here?) said her 5-year-old endured a bullhorn, blasted point blank, at her ear. That is assault, and should result in jail time.]]

    The only problem I can see with this is that it doesn’t apply to all persons, equally.
    My objections are limited since I believe service in uniform requires obligations and duties that should include special provisions for those who serve. Burial in Arlington is one example.

    If Sen. Rubio made it apply to all funerals (I guess that includes heads of state and “public figures”), then it should comport with the First Amendment.

    (No I am not a lawyer. I study the rights of man, and the roots of the Constitution.)

    • K~Bob

      Sorry for the length. Philosophical stuff is rarely short.

      • Anonymous

        A good roll once in a while is healthy for the soul. Besides I agree w/you so I don’t care how much space it takes to say it. These people laid down their lives for this country and have earned the right to be buried in peace.

    • KeninMontana

      One thing you have overlooked in your dissertation, the WBC clowns are occupying “public space” outside of the cemetery,so they are within their own right to do so. Cemeteries,however are for the most part private property and in the case of Veteran’s Cemeteries whether State or Federal have restrictions against disturbances, so if they were to attempt to bring the protests onto the cemetery grounds they would then be in violation of those ordinances and the property rights of the landholders. No, I am not a lawyer either but a long time student of the Constitution.

      • K~Bob

        Nope, that’s covered via the term “commons,” above. Also in ref to the demos in Wisconsin. It’s also covered by several bits in the Snyder v. Phelps ruling. The local community can set it’s own rules governing competing uses of the commons, to prevent groups from stepping on each others rights. That can include rules on volume (performers get hit with those all the time), visibility, and other stuff (like being too near a grade school to have perverted signs).

        Nearly every item you see in a search on this Phelps madness involves what is, IMO, a red herring, namely that the speech of one party may be deemed “offensive” by others. My points have nothing to do with that. I’m just referring to the long-standing tradition that you don’t get to deny someone else’s speech by interfering with their lawful, and legal event, and then claim it’s your First Amendment right.

        In my personal opinion, those jerks who put bullhorns in people’s faces have committed an act of violence that calls for self defense measures, and are liable for all damages for initiating violence. Clearly we can’t allow ear damage as a “byproduct” of people merely exercising their rights.

        From that obvious example, it follows that there may be other aspects of public speech that the community may restrict, and still be in compliance with the First Amendment. Everyone’s rights must be equal, not just the ones with the most bullhorns.

        • KeninMontana

          I would not envy you trying to use this as a defense in court,”In my personal opinion, those jerks who put bullhorns in people’s faces have committed an act of violence that calls for self defense measures” I can empathize with the sentiment,but it wouldn’t hold up in court. In the case of the WBC however,whether you or I like it or not they have the right to do what they are doing. However, Rubio’s bill will not pass Constitutional muster as it is in direct opposition to the First Amendment.

          • K~Bob

            It’s not put here as a “courtroom” defense. It’s a discussion based on rights. The fact is, many communities do have noise restrictions on performances, demonstrations, etc. Those sorts of restrictions are in compliance with the FA, and your chances of getting a Supreme Court to say otherwise are vanishingly small. There may be some communities with laws holding that bullhorns-in-the-face and screaming-in-people’s-ears are assault. If so, these laws are just as valid as any other laws. Assault is assault, and the perps should be held liable. Especially if it involves permanent damage to a child’s ears. If that is somehow a problem, then individual liberty and the rule of law have zero meaning in the real world.

            Whether you or I like it or not, the ruling in Snyder v. Phelps was Constitutionally correct, especially as in regard to the fact that certain aspects of speech are regulated, and always have been. The dissent by Alito (a respectable constitutional mind) amplifies this fact, and applies it directly to how he would have ruled. His ruling would have stepped around waiting for a law like this (I think it was because of the special nature of those who serve–I should read it again). The actual ruling left the door wide open for laws governing funerals, or any other events where people need rules to prevent a clash of FA rights.

            As described in press releases, this law is not in opposition to the FA anymore than the removal of screamers from the Gallery in Congress is in opposition to the FA, or the removal of demonstrators who lie in the street is in opposition to the FA. You cannot give one group “superior” Constitutional rights to another. You don’t, as Mayor of a city, tell your Police, “Gosh, we can’t remove those folks from the road, we’ll just have to wait till they give up and go home.” The Commons must be equally available to all (for that commons’ intended purpose–in the case of streets, vehicle traffic, in the case of the Gallery, The Peoples’ Business).

            You can, however, as a governing body, make access to those rights equal for all citizens. That’s what this law had better be doing, or it’s not only a waste of time, its pretty much an end to Rubio’s credibility with Tea Party types. (I haven’t read the details of the bill, so I don’t know if they overstep the long-established traditions of making the FA equal for all citizens.)

            If it does establish common rules for funerals, it’s no different from rules that prevent you from putting a porn shop next door to a grade school, or laws that prevent you from blocking traffic with a demonstration that has no permit.

            Again, the First Amendment is not an excuse to overpower other citizens’ rights. It never will be, until and unless the Constitution is truly voided.

  • Tyler

    Some of you (thankfully) have already hinted at this. As much as we all can’t stand these scumbags who claim to even be a “church organization” protesting military funerals or any other funeral…it doesn’t matter who comes up with the legislation or how much they try to make it only affect that certain group of people who we all hate.

    It is still a slippery slope that I as a Constitutionalist must oppose on the basis that first it starts off with “Hey…we hate those guys and what they’re doing, so let’s go ahead and limit their ability to do what they’re doing that we hate.”

    What’s next though? It might not be right away, but leave it to the next group of people to decide that they say…don’t like pro-life demonstrations being held next to abortion clinics. They can use that same logic later on down the road to decide that pro-life people can’t go near abortion clinics because those who want to get abortions claim to feel “threatened” and “hurt” by the pro-lifers.

    I hope what I’m saying makes sense for those of you who quickly jump on the bandwagon of “Let’s end this already and protect the families.” It is MORE speech…not less which is going to combat this problem. Besides…as people evolve, these mofos aren’t going to be able to recruit more followers and the kids who they’re indoctrinating now are going to grow up to realize that they’ve been taught wrong and this tradition will die on its own.

    Besides that…last time I checked, Rubio was supposed to be a fiscal conservative and maybe instead of spending time proposing new legislation, how about he and every other R work on repealing old legislation and providing more liberty and prosperity…maybe actually saving our country from financial ruin.

  • oh wow therightscoop you agree with me on this issue! it seems like every other conservative thinks it’s perfectly fine for protesters to harass and distract funeral goers. good for you, rubio, for putting limits to this kind of crap. so glad i finally find conservatives who agree with me on this one.

  • Anonymous

    I love these people.

    While it is noble and I love the Patriot Guard Riders and the people that do things to protect the families from these freaks, still in all just having them there distracts from the reverence of the service. Some things in this country need to remain sacred and holy. We owe our service members and their families for their sacrifice.
    Pass the bill.

  • This is another Patriot Act type of thing. The Repubs were totally fine with it when GW was in power but now we see that it wasnt a good idea from the beginning because it was an assault on our Liberty. While I agree 100% that the Westboro “Baptist” are absolutely despicable, it is exactly their kind of speech that is what we need to protect. I applaud the folks like the Patriot Guard Riders and other groups that drown out the vitriol with motorcycles and or singing of Patriotic songs. Rubio we know your heart is in the right place with this but please do not keep pushing forward with this law.

    • Anonymous

      Your son was killed in the Stan, you are devastated, your wife and entire family is in shock and numb. His beautiful sweet wife that is like a daughter to you and your two young grandsons, 3 and 5 years old that are the spitting image of your son are roaming around the house asking what’s happened, why is everyone so sad, why are you crying mommy? The cat is being pissy and the dog is confused. It’s overwhelming planning the funeral, making calls, people calling you asking you a million questions on how he died, wanting to know how can they help? A stream of people bringing dishes of food that your refrigerator cannot possibly hold. Your other 2 kids are racing around running errands, trying to tidy up the house for the flow of traffic that will soon invade your home and doing what they can to hold mom together. You are dealing w/the local media being wannabe reporters that are bringing politics into your child’s death. Suddenly you have to find cash to cover miscellaneous costs that never occurred to you because you have never had to bury anyone. Relatives, grandparents, and friends are traveling from out of town, who will sleep where, what hotels are close by w/rooms? Who is going to the airport? You are doing your best to cope w/the military and learn protocol you had no clue existed, arrangements have to be made to get your son’s body returned. All you want to do is crawl in the bed and wake up when the nightmare is over, but you can’t, too much to do on very little sleep and of course you are the one expected to be strong and keep the family together, make the tough decisions. Suggestions and ideas on what and how to do the funeral are flying at you from all directions, a few times tensions are strained on what is best.

      Fast forward…you are sitting in the church, your son’s friends are giving their last respects, you want to hear their stories, those stories of his friends memories is something you will cling to, their strength and love for your son brings you comfort. You learn of a side of your boy that you didn’t know existed. The minister gives an eulogy, he remembers when Joe was a young man full of life and remembers marrying him to his bride and christening his two sons. It’s all surreal. The pain bleeds from your pores. You never knew your heart could ache so bad. Reality is starting to sink in.

      I can guarantee you while it is wonderful what the Patriot Guard is doing outside on behalf of your son, you really don’t want to be inside having your son’s funeral while outside motorcycles are roaring their engines, and people are singing God Bless America knowing the reason you are listening to those sounds even if welcomed and appreciated is because some freaking assholes are protesting and exercising their right to freedom of speech while you as an American citizen have just given this country your most sacred and valued treasure….your son, and you have no rights to honor and say good-bye to him with reverence, peace, and respect he has so earned and deserves. If you have never been to a military funeral you should go sometime.

      As a sidebar, I highly recommend seeing the movie Taking Chance.

  • K~Bob

    Here’s the more disturbing thing: Rubio has started out like a John McCain wannabe. This “SERVE” act came about when “Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) introduced the measure with Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Dan Coats (R-IN), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), John Hoeven (R-ND), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Harry Reid (D-NV), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).”

    (quote from )

    Are there no Conservative Senators that want to tackle this?

    And why now?

    (By the way, reading the actual ruling in Snyder v. Phelps shows that this law can be made to comply with that ruling. Alito’s dissent is worth a read, as well. )

  • Poptoy1949

    AMEN !

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Seneca_1001

    Personally, I’m more inclined to think a city ordiance along the lines of infringing on funeral attendees right to privacy, than I am to agree with a federal law. This is a dangerous precedent.