< Back to S. 815 (112th Congress, 2011–2013)

Text of the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act of 2011

This bill was introduced on April 13, 2011, in a previous session of Congress, but was not enacted. The text of the bill below is as of Apr 13, 2011 (Introduced).

Source: GPO

II

112th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 815

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

April 13, 2011

(for herself, Mr. Conrad, Mr. Kirk, Mr. Pryor, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Coats, Mr. Rubio, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Johanns, Mr. Hoeven, Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Reid, and Mr. Rockefeller) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

A BILL

To guarantee that military funerals are conducted with dignity and respect.

1.

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act of 2011 or the SERVE Act of 2011.

2.

Purpose and authority

(a)

Purpose

The purpose of this Act is to provide necessary and proper support for the recruitment and retention of the Armed Forces and militia employed in the service of the United States by protecting the dignity of the service of the members of such Forces and militia, and by protecting the privacy of their immediate family members and other attendees during funeral services for such members.

(b)

Constitutional authority

Congress finds that this Act is a necessary and proper exercise of its powers under the Constitution, article I, section 8, paragraphs 1, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18, to provide for the common defense, raise and support armies, provide and maintain a navy, make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces, and provide for organizing and governing such part of the militia as may be employed in the service of the United States.

3.

Amend to title 18

Section 1388 of title 18, United States Code is amended to read as follows:

1388.

Prohibition on disruptions of funerals of members or former members of the armed forces

(a)

Prohibition

For any funeral of a member or former member of the Armed Forces that is not located at a cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration or part of Arlington National Cemetery, it shall be unlawful for any person to engage in an activity during the period beginning 120 minutes before and ending 120 minutes after such funeral, any part of which activity—

(1)
(A)

takes place within the boundaries of the location of such funeral or takes place within 300 feet of the point of the intersection between—

(i)

the boundary of the location of such funeral; and

(ii)

a road, pathway, or other route of ingress to or egress from the location of such funeral; and

(B)

includes any individual willfully making or assisting in the making of any noise or diversion that is not part of such funeral and that disturbs or tends to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral;

(2)
(A)

is within 500 feet of the boundary of the location of such funeral; and

(B)

includes any individual willfully and without proper authorization impeding or tending to impede the access to or egress from such location or disrupting or tending to disrupt a funeral procession; or

(3)

is within 500 feet of the boundary of the residence, home or domicile of any surviving member of the deceased person's immediate family and includes any individual willfully making or assisting in the making of any noise or diversion that disturbs or tends to disturb the peace of the persons located at such location.

(b)

Penalty

Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

(c)

Civil remedies

(1)

District courts

The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction—

(A)

to prevent and restrain violations of this section; and

(B)

for the adjudication of any claims for relief under this section.

(2)

Attorney general

The Attorney General may institute proceedings under this section.

(3)

Claims

Any person, including a surviving member of the deceased person's immediate family, who suffers injury as a result of conduct that violates this section may—

(A)

sue therefor in any appropriate United States district court or in any court of competent jurisdiction; and

(B)

recover damages as provided in subsection (d) and the cost of the suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.

(4)

Estoppel

A final judgment or decree rendered in favor of the United States in any criminal proceeding brought by the United States under this section shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of the criminal offense in any subsequent civil proceeding brought by a person or by the United States.

(d)

Actual and statutory damages

(1)

In general

In addition to any penalty imposed under subsection (b), a violator of this section is liable in an action under subsection (c) for actual or statutory damages as provided in this subsection.

(2)

Actions by private persons

A person bringing an action under subsection (c)(3) may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the violation or, instead of actual damages, an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action.

(3)

Actions by Attorney General

The Attorney General under subsection (c)(2) is entitled to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action notwithstanding any recovery under subsection (c)(3).

(4)

Statutory damages

A court may award, as the court considers just, statutory damages in a sum of not less than $25,000 or more than $50,000 per violation.

(e)

Rebuttable presumption

It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the violation was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief under this section if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, did not have reasonable grounds to believe, either from the attention or publicity sought by the violator or other circumstance, that the conduct of such violator or person would not disturb or tend to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral, impede or tend to impede the access to or egress from such funeral, disrupt or tend disrupt to a funeral procession, or disturb or tend to disturb the peace of any surviving member of the deceased person's immediate family who may be found at the residence, home or domicile of the deceased person's immediate family on the date of the service or ceremony.

(f)

Definitions

In this section—

(1)

the term Armed Forces has the meaning given the term in section 101 of title 10 and includes members and former members of the National Guard who were employed in the service of the United States; and

(2)

the term immediate family shall have the same meaning given such term in section 115 of this title.

.

4.

Amendment to title 38

(a)

In general

Section 2413 of title 38, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

2413.

Prohibition on certain demonstrations and disruptions at cemeteries under control of the National Cemetery Administration and at Arlington National Cemetery

(a)

Prohibition

It shall be unlawful for any person—

(1)

to carry out a demonstration on the property of a cemetery under the control of the National Cemetery Administration or on the property of Arlington National Cemetery unless the demonstration has been approved by the cemetery superintendent or the director of the property on which the cemetery is located; or

(2)

with respect to such a cemetery, to engage in an activity during the period beginning 120 minutes before and ending 120 minutes after a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony is held, any part of which activity—

(A)
(i)

takes place within the boundaries of such cemetery or takes place within 300 feet of the point of the intersection between—

(I)

the boundary of such cemetery; and

(II)

a road, pathway, or other route of ingress to or egress from such cemetery; and

(ii)

includes any individual willfully making or assisting in the making of any noise or diversion that is not part of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony and that disturbs or tends to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; or

(B)
(i)

is within 500 feet of the boundary of such cemetery; and

(ii)

includes any individual willfully and without proper authorization impeding or tending to impede the access to or egress from such cemetery or disrupting or tending to disrupt a funeral procession.

(b)

Penalty

Any person who violates subsection (a) shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than 2 years, or both.

(c)

Civil remedies

(1)

The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction—

(A)

to prevent and restrain violations of this section; and

(B)

for the adjudication of any claims for relief under this section.

(2)

The Attorney General of the United States may institute proceedings under this section.

(3)

Any person, including a surviving member of the deceased person's immediate family, who suffers injury as a result of conduct that violates this section may—

(A)

sue therefor in any appropriate United States district court or in any court of competent jurisdiction; and

(B)

recover damages as provided in subsection (d) and the cost of the suit, including reasonable attorneys’ fees.

(4)

A final judgment or decree rendered in favor of the United States in any criminal proceeding brought by the United States under this section shall estop the defendant from denying the essential allegations of the criminal offense in any subsequent civil proceeding brought by a person or by the United States.

(d)

Actual and statutory damages

(1)

In addition to any penalty imposed under subsection (b), a violator of this section is liable in an action under subsection (c) for actual or statutory damages as provided in this subsection.

(2)

A person bringing an action under subsection (c)(3) may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the violation or, instead of actual damages, an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action.

(3)

The Attorney General under subsection (c)(2) is entitled to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation involved in the action notwithstanding any recovery under subsection (c)(3).

(4)

A court may award, as the court considers just, statutory damages in a sum of not less than $25,000 or more than $50,000 per violation.

(e)

Rebuttable presumption

It shall be a rebuttable presumption that the violation of subsection (a)(2) was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief under this section if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, did not have reasonable grounds to believe, either from the attention or publicity sought by the violator or other circumstance, that the conduct of such violator or person would not—

(1)

disturb or tend to disturb the peace or good order of such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; or

(2)

impede or tend to impede the access to or egress from such funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; or

(3)

disrupt or tend to disrupt a funeral procession.

(f)

Definitions

In this section—

(1)

the term demonstration includes—

(A)

any picketing or similar conduct;

(B)

any oration, speech, use of sound amplification equipment or device, or similar conduct that is not part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony;

(C)

the display of any placard, banner, flag, or similar device, unless such a display is part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; and

(D)

the distribution of any handbill, pamphlet, leaflet, or other written or printed matter other than a program distributed as part of a funeral, memorial service, or ceremony; and

(2)

the term immediate family shall have the same meaning given such term in section 115 of title 18.

.

(b)

Clerical amendment

The table of sections at the beginning of chapter 24 of such title is amended by striking the item relating to section 2413 and inserting the following new item:

2413. Prohibition on certain demonstrations and disruptions at cemeteries under control of the National Cemetery Administration and at Arlington National Cemetery.

.