A federal lawsuit is seeking to block a new Missouri law making it a crime to disturb a worship service.
The lawsuit filed Wednesday by attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union claims the law is illegally vague and will infringe on free-speech rights guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.
The measure would make it a misdemeanor to use, “profane discourse, rude or indecent behavior,” or make loud disruptive noises within or just outside a public or private building where a worship service is being held. It was sponsored by Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter).
“It’s important for citizens here in Missouri to have their First Amendment rights protected," Mayer said. "There (have) been instances across the country where there have been actual disturbances in churches and synagogues.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing an eastern Missouri county in an effort to halt prayers at county commission meetings.
The Washington Missourian reports that the suit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis by the ACLU on behalf of an anonymous resident of Franklin County. It alleges that the commission begins meetings with a prayer in violation of the U.S. and Missouri constitutions.
A Missouri judge has upheld a ballot summary for an initiative that would grant St. Louis local control over its police force.
The St. Louis police department currently is overseen by a board consisting of the mayor and four appointees of the governor.
Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce ruled Thursday that the summary prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office fairly and impartially describes the measure, which supporters are trying to get on the November ballot.
Both sides of the debate on how St. Louis would handle local control of its police department are digging in their heels over issues of public oversight and transparency.
At a Board of Alderman community forum last night, critics argued that language on a proposed ballot initiative would preclude the department from a civilian review board and restrict public access to disciplinary records.
John Chasnoff is a program director for the ACLU, which supports local control but is suing to block the initiative.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the city of St. Louis, asking a judge to make the city turn over jail records related to inmate grievances.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the suit filed Wednesday accuses the city's corrections division of ignoring repeated requests over the past four months for records under the Missouri Sunshine Law.
The suit seeks an injunction forcing release of the records. It also asks the judge to find the city in violation of the law and to impose civil penalties.
Some Republicans at odds with Nixon over state's job-creation tax breaks
Some Republican lawmakers are at odds with members of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration over whether Missouri's job-creation tax breaks have been a success or failure. During a House committee hearing Monday, figures showed a wide gap between the number of jobs anticipated and those actually created by businesses approved for aid under the Missouri Quality Jobs program.