Gov. Jindal's threat to have Westboro members arrested sparks legal debate

Gov. Jindal's threat to have Westboro members arrested sparks legal debate

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal gave a stern warning to Westboro Baptist Church members who had reportedly threatened to protest the funerals of the Lafayette movie theater victims.

"Let me be very clear, if they come here to Louisiana and they try to disrupt those funerals, we're going to lock them up," said Jindal.

The funerals for Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson were held on Monday.

Before that, Jindal issued an executive order asking police to enforce a Louisiana State law that protects against disturbing the peace at funerals.

But, it did not have to be enforced because no church members arrived.

"If they were in fact deterred from coming because of the threat to arrest them, that indicates how unlawful his executive order was," said Louisiana ACLU Director Marjorie Esman.

The ACLU of Louisiana while not in support of Westboro Baptist Church, raises the question: Were their first amendment rights violated?

Jonathon Phelps, an attorney and one of the church's elders says the reason they did not show up had nothing to do with Governor Jindal's threat. He said church members had other places to go.

Joel Pearce, a Shreveport attorney who is no stranger to defending people's first amendment rights, believes Governor Jindal was on solid legal ground.

"It's not unreasonable to say that you can't shout fire in a crowded theater," said Pearce.

Pearce believes the chance of a clash between protestors and residents of Louisiana was high.

"These people are burying their loved ones, and to have these idiots show up and threaten to hijack all of this stuff is just a prelude to violence," said Pearce.

If they didn't come for fear of arrest for fear of the Governor's executive order, then no, it's not over," said Esman.

"Governor Jindal should be sued for the intentional violation of his oath of office," said Phelps.

"Bring it on. I think that's exciting. I think this is an issue that should be litigated," said Pearce.

The ACLU said it's interesting that Gov. Jindal issued an executive order on the protesting from the church considering he has issued another executive order in defense of religious freedom after the supreme court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages.

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