Missouri court rules worship act violates First Amendment

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ST. LOUIS (AP) – The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that the House of Worship Protection Act, which bans anyone for intentionally disturbing the order or solemnity of a house of worship through profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior, is a violation of the First Amendment.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri court ruled Monday against the state law after the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit challenging the law in 2012.

The lawsuit was on behalf of various groups, including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The groups argued that the First Amendment protects their freedom to protest, pray and distribute literature outside places of worship.

Under the law, which took effect in 2012, anyone who violated the act is guilty of a misdemeanor and faces months of jail time. Third and subsequent charges are felonies.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Disptch, http://www.stltoday.com

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