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Military Funerals To Get More Protections Under New California Law

Westboro Baptist Church protesters
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Westboro Baptist Church protesters

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law that makes it illegal to disrupt military funerals, and requires protesters to stay at least 300 feet away from funeral services. Penalties for disobeying the new law include a $1,000 fine and possible jail time.

The measure was authored by state Sen. Ted Lieu, an Air Force veteran. He said his new law stays within the confines of last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protected the free speech rights of military funeral protesters:

“This carefully crafted measure balances the constitutionally protected right of free speech with limited restrictions on the time, place and manner in which protests at funerals can be held. We’ve all been disgusted by hateful protests at military funerals, and that should now be reduced or stopped.”

President Obama signed a similar federal law last month. Under that measure, protesters are banned from picketing military funerals both two hours before and two hours after the funeral. Demonstrators also must stay at least 300 feet away from the families of the fallen.