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Supreme Court Won't Reconsider Ban on 'Gruesome' Church Protest

The U.S. Supreme Court this week said it would not take up a case involving an anti-abortion protester's free speech right vs. a Denver church's right to free exercise of religion.

The Colorado Court of Appeals last year upheld a lower court decision restricting the time, place and manner of protests near St. John's Church in the Wilderness, the Episcopal cathedral of Colorado.

The church initiated a nuisance complaint after demonstrators "intentionally disrupted" outdoor Palm Sunday and Easter services in 2006 and 2007, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys.

The appeals court barred Kenneth Tyler Scott from "displaying large posters or similar displays depicting gruesome images of mutilated fetuses or dead bodies in a manner reasonably likely to be viewed by children under 12."

"We recognize the presence of a compelling governmental interest in protecting children from disturbing images, and we further conclude that the prohibition is narrowly tailored," Judge John R. Webb wrote in the appeals court ruling.

St. John's Church, which declined an interview request, wants its parishioners to be able to "pray and worship in peace," according to court documents.

But on Scott's behalf, Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who said he personally supports abortion rights, asked the Supreme Court to consider the case. (He also wrote several posts about the case for his popular law blog.)

Volokh cited conflicting rulings by lower courts nationwide on whether the government may restrict "gruesome" material in a traditional public forum to protect the sensibilities of children.

The church obviously has a right to worship without disruption inside ...

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Supreme Court Won't Reconsider Ban on 'Gruesome' Church Protest
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June 2013

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