Nevada joins challenge of funeral protests

CARSON CITY -- Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto joined 47 other state attorneys general in filing a legal brief to protect the privacy of grieving families at military funerals.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Kansas case ruled that pickets have the right to protest at military funerals. That decision has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Masto agreed to join in a brief being filed to support the Kansas appeal.

"Honoring our war dead is a tradition that stretches for generations and across cultures and national borders," she said. "Those who are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect our freedoms deserve our admiration and respect and their grieving families should be spared the added emotional trauma of a political protest at their loved one's military funeral."

The case involves the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., whose members have conducted numerous protests at military funerals, including some in Nevada, in which they taunt mourners and carry signs like "God Hates Fags."

Assemblyman Lynn Stewart, R-Henderson, has tried unsuccessfully in two consecutive Nevada legislative sessions to pass bills to prevent protests near funerals. The bills failed because of concerns by some legislators about the First Amendment right to protest.