ACLU says Jindal executive order misguided
LAFAYETTE - Civil liberty advocates warn that Governor Bobby Jindal's executive order to ban protesting at the funerals for two Lafayette movie theater shooting victims may violate the First Amendment.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana said Sunday Jindal's intentions were honorable, but his order was "misguided."
"We hope that, despite the threat of protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson may be laid to rest in peace," said ACLU Assistant Director Colleen Kane Gielskie. "Governor Jindal’s Executive Order, issued yesterday morning, comes from the same well of sympathy, but it is misguided and has the potential to be used to infringe on protestors’ First Amendment rights."
Jindal's order directs law enforcement agencies to "strictly enforce" Louisiana's disturbing the peace statute, which bans people from disrupting funerals through "utterance, gesture, or display" or by blocking funeral routes. The statute normally offers such protection for two hours before and after funeral services, and Jindal's order will remain in effect until 48 hours after both funerals.
Jindal, who is running for president but suspended his campaign after the shooting, appeared on a national Sunday morning talk show to warn protestors against showing up, saying they would be put in jail if they disrupted the funeral.
"We're gonna lock them up," Jindal said.
The ACLU said Sunday that Jindal's order is contradictory because it claims to protect the First Amendment rights of the shooting victims' families, but violates the rights of funeral protestors.
"Given Gov. Jindal’s stated concern for religious freedom – which would weigh in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church – he should be careful not to run afoul of the First Amendment in this or any other orders that he may issue," Gielskie said.
A Facebook group planning a human barrier to shield funeral attendees has more than 15,000 supporters who said they'll show up.