S. 2452 (109th): Dignity for Military Funerals Act of 2006

109th Congress, 2005–2006. Text as of Mar 16, 2006 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

109th CONGRESS

2d Session

S. 2452

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 16 (legislative day, March 15), 2006

(for himself and Mr. Chambliss) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

A BILL

To prohibit picketing at the funerals of members and former members of the armed forces.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Dignity for Military Funerals Act of 2006.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that—

(1)

article I, section 8, of the Constitution of the United States grants Congress the power to provide for the common Defence, To raise and support Armies, and To provide and maintain a Navy;

(2)

the Supreme Court of the United States has held that The constitutional power of Congress to raise and support armies and to make all laws necessary and proper to that end is broad and sweeping., United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 377 (1968) (citations omitted);

(3)

supporting our armies and maintaining a Navy includes supporting soldiers, sailors, and marines, and their families, after they are deceased;

(4)

our brave military men and women put themselves at great risk to protect the freedom of every American and our Nation as a whole;

(5)

every death of a member of the armed forces is a tragic loss to our Nation;

(6)

all Americans have tremendous gratitude for the courage and selflessness of the members of the armed forces;

(7)

when a member of the armed forces dies in the line of duty, the thoughts and prayers of the entire Nation are with the family of the deceased at such an extraordinarily difficult time;

(8)

it is generally recognized that families have a substantial interest in organizing and attending funerals for deceased relatives;

(9)

the interests of families in privately and peacefully mourning the loss of deceased relatives are violated when funerals are targeted for picketing and other public demonstrations;

(10)

picketing of funerals causes emotional disturbance and distress to grieving families who participate in funerals; and

(11)

full opportunity exists under this Act and the amendments made by this Act for the exercise of freedom of speech and other constitutional rights at times other than within 1 hour prior to or during the funeral of a member of the armed forces and 1 hour following the conclusion of such a funeral.

3.

Definitions

In this Act—

(1)

the term armed forces has the meaning given the term in section 101 of title 10, United States Code;

(2)

the term funeral of a member or former member of the armed forces means any ceremony, procession, or memorial service held in connection with the burial or cremation of a member or former member of the armed forces;

(3)

the term picketing means protest activities engaged in by any person within 300 feet of a cemetery, mortuary, or church during the period beginning 1 hour prior to the funeral of a member of the armed forces and ending 1 hour after the conclusion of such a funeral; and

(4)

the term protest activities includes, with respect to any funeral—

(A)

oration, speech, or similar conduct before an assembled group of people that is not part of the funeral or ceremony,

(B)

the display of placards, banners, posters, flags, or similar devices that are not part of the funeral or ceremony, and

(C)

the distribution of any handbill, pamphlet, leaflet, or other written material that is not part of the funeral or ceremony.

4.

Prohibition on picketing at funerals of military personnel

(a)

In General

No State or unit of local government shall issue a permit allowing, or otherwise authorize, picketing during the funeral of a member or former member of the armed forces.

(b)

Criminal prohibition

(1)

In general

Chapter 67 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding after section 1386 the following:

1387.

Prohibition on picketing at funerals of military personnel

(a)

In General

It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in picketing at the funeral of a member or former member of the armed forces .

(b)

Penalty

Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.

(c)

Definitions

In this section—

(1)

the term armed forces has the meaning given the term in section 101 of title 10;

(2)

the term funeral of a member or former member of the armed forces means any ceremony, procession, or memorial service held in connection with the burial or cremation of a member or former member of the armed forces;

(3)

the term picketing means protest activities engaged in by any person within 300 feet of a cemetery, mortuary, or church during the period beginning 1 hour prior to the funeral of a member of the armed forces and ending 1 hour after the conclusion of such a funeral; and

(4)

the term protest activities includes, with respect to any funeral—

(A)

oration, speech, or similar conduct before an assembled group of people that is not part of the funeral or ceremony,

(B)

the display of placards, banners, posters, flags, or similar devices that are not part of the funeral or ceremony, and

(C)

the distribution of any handbill, pamphlet, leaflet, or other written material that is not part of the funeral or ceremony.

.

(2)

Conforming amendment

The table of sections for chapter 67 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding after the item related to section 1386 the following:

1387. Prohibition on picketing at funerals of military personnel.

.

5.

Nonpreemption

Nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act shall be construed to preempt any State or local law that affords greater protection to individuals attending the funeral of a member or former member of the armed forces.

6.

Severability

If any provision of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of this Act, the amendments made by this Act, and the application of the provisions of such to any person or circumstance shall not be affected thereby.