NEW ORLEANS – The ACLU of Louisiana would like to express our profound sympathy to the families and loved ones of the victims of Thursday's shooting in Lafayette. We hope that, despite the threat of protests by the Westboro Baptist Church, Mayci Breaux and Jillian Johnson may be laid to rest in peace. Governor Jindal's Executive Order, issued yesterday morning, comes from the same well of sympathy, but it is misguided and has the potential to be used to infringe on protestors' First Amendment rights.
This is not the first time that the governor has issued an order that could violate the rights of people—in this case possible funeral protestors—in the name of enforcing existing law. Further, Gov. Jindal's order is contradictory. He cites the First Amendment on behalf of the victims' families while simultaneously denying the protection of it to funeral protestors.
While the governor may have the best intentions, he would have better served both the families of the Lafayette victims and the law by simply allowing the police to enforce the existing law as written. Given Gov. Jindal's stated concern for religious freedom – which would weigh in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church – he should be careful not to run afoul of the First Amendment in this or any other orders that he may issue.