TUCSON, AZ — Gov. Jan Brewer (R) tonight signed a hastily written and passed law aimed squarely at Westboro Baptist Church. The law, which will take effect immediately, aims to deny Westboro — the notorious Kansas church group led by anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps — the chance to disrupt the funeral of a 9-year-old girl killed in the mass shooting in Tucson Saturday morning.
From the Arizona Republic:
Senate Bill 1101 creates a “funeral protection zone” that bans protesters within 300 feet of a funeral service. The ban applies to one hour before, during or after a funeral service. A violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor.
The bill was passed in the legislature earlier today by unanimous votes in the state House and Senate. As TPM reported earlier today, the bill was modeled on similar legislation aimed at curbing Phelps and his church in Ohio. That law has been upheld by a federal district court.
Though the bill passed with no opposition in Phoenix today, not all Arizonans favor it. Pima County Republican Party chair Brian Miller told TPM yesterday he was concerned that the law would trample on first amendment rights.
State House Speaker Kirk Adams (R) addressed those concerns in an interview with the Republic after the vote.
“Anybody has a right to say what they want to say in this country,” he told the paper. “But we have a right to regulate the time and place [of such speech].”