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.
Gov. Jay Nixon has signed into law more than two dozen bills covering a variety of topics, including disturbances of worship services, workers' compensation and child care providers.
The governor's office announced the bill signings Tuesday. One measure makes it a misdemeanor to intentionally disrupt or interrupt a worship service with profanity, noise or indecent behavior. Violators could face fines of up to $500 and six months in jail.
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.”