Part of funeral protest law too vague to enforce, fed court rules

A federal judge’s decision to strike part of Michigan’s funeral protest law as unconstitutional has both sides declaring victory. [Detroit Free Press]

Judge Thomas Ludington struck subsection (c) of MCL 750.167d, which states:

(c) Engage in any other conduct that the person knows or should reasonably know will disturb, disrupt, or adversely affect the funeral, memorial service, viewing of the deceased person, funeral procession, or burial

Ludington said the subsection was unconstitutional because it was too vague for police to enforce. He left the remainder of the statute intact.

In the case, police pulled an Army vet and his wife from a 2007 funeral procession for having an anti-war sign on their vehicle.  The Freep’s David Ashenfelter talked to both the ACLU and Michigan Attorney General’s office, with both declaring victory.

“It’s a complete vindication of Lewis and Jean Lowden,” said Detroit attorney Hugh (Buck) Davis, who represented the family with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan.

He said they were humiliated for simply trying to attend a funeral. Lowden could not be reached for comment.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office, which had tried to get the suit dismissed, also declared victory.

“This is a victory for protecting the sanctity of funerals and the privacy of families who have suffered a tragic loss,” said spokesman John Sellek, saying Ludington’s decision struck two words — “adversely affect” — from the statute. “The law essentially remains in place.”

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