Date: July 7, 2010
Court OKs Woman's Plan To Trample Flag
Megan Phelps-Roper Gets 1-Day Permit For Protest
LINCOLN, Neb. -- The Kansas family known for protesting at the funerals for fallen American soldiers has won a legal victory in Nebraska.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kopf gave Megan Phelps-Roper permission to desecrate the American flag and warned that she was not to be arrested.
Phelps-Roper walked on the flag in Lincoln on Wednesday in a political protest.
"It's a way of showing that this thing, this piece of cloth that you worship, is worthless to help you," she said.
Kopf ruled in favor of Phelps-Roper and against Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning. His ruling said that if Phelps-Roper's First Amendment rights were impaired, she would suffer irreparable injury.
The ruling also said that Phelps-Roper's actions posed no threat to Bruning and that the attorney general's effort to stop her would be unconstitutional.
Kopf also said that while the public may not like the fact that Phelps-Roper has a constitutional right to dishonor the American flag and the Nebraska flag, the First Amendment trumps the citizenry's preference for patriotism.
"They're enticing people to violence and I think the government should act," said Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.
He said the ruling should have been less about free speech and more about public safety.
"It's using the flag as a tool to create disturbances, and that's what she's doing," Polikov said.
Bellevue Police Chief John Stacey said he agrees. He said the case really goes back to 2007, when his officers arrested Phelps-Roper's mother for allowing her 10-year-old son to desecrate the flag at a soldier's funeral.
Stacey said ultimately, the courts have the final say.
"Right now, the law's on her side on this issue and we've got to follow the law," he said. "That's where we're at."
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