Ban on anti-war T-shirts sought

Bill would bar use of dead soldiers' names or pictures

January 16, 2008|By Laura Smitherman

Responding to the sale of anti-war T-shirts sold over the Internet, Maryland legislators have introduced a bill to prohibit the commercial use of names or pictures of dead U.S. soldiers without family permission.

Lawmakers said they filed the bill after hearing from the families of soldiers who were killed in Iraq and whose names were among thousands featured on T-shirts with the slogans "Bush Lied" and "They Died" on the front and back.

Kevin Kavanagh and Eric Herzberg said their sons, both named Eric and both killed in action, would not have approved of the message.

"You have the right to make money," Herzberg said, "but not off the good names of people who have given everything they have to their country."

Several states, including Arizona and Texas, have enacted similar laws.

Sen. Bryan W. Simonaire, an Anne Arundel County Republican and sponsor of the Fallen Soldier Privacy Act, said he is tailoring the bill's language to try to avoid court challenges after the American Civil Liberties Union won an injunction against the Arizona law last year, arguing that it violated free-speech rights.

Simonaire also said he would limit the bill to veterans from the past 50 years so that it couldn't be construed to apply to the portrait of President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Jackson was a veteran of the War of 1812.

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