In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Arizona To Take On Westboro Baptist Church In Wake Of Shooting

Jcogezm083dx4w9p4bgw
Newscom

Rep. Daniel Patterson (D), whose district covers southern Tucson including the city's downtown, told me this afternoon that legislators are currently working on a constitutional way to keep Phelps and his crew away from the funerals.

"We're going to try to protect the families from undue harassment," Patterson told TPM.

Westboro announced its plans to protest outside funerals for those killed in the shooting in a press release. The group plans to haul its well-known signs to the memorial service for Christina Green, the 9-year-old victim of the shooting.

Arizona House Democratic Caucus aide Sarah Muench told TPM that as soon as Westboro's plans became public, leaders from both parties in the state legislature -- which kicked off its new term Monday -- got together to work on a way to prevent the church from harassing mourners.

The final language for the bill has yet to be written, but Muench said it will be modeled on other states' laws aimed at limiting Westboro.

"It's definitely going to happen," Muench told me. "Hopefully this week."

A federal appeals court last year ruled that the picketing was free speech protected by the Constitution, and a lawyer for the group appeared before the Supreme Court in October to argue the issue. The Court has yet to issue its ruling.

Ryan J. Reilly contributed to this report.