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US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church

 
corestorm
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03/02/2011 08:58 PM
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US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
The US Supreme Court has ruled that a controversial anti-gay church westboro has the right to picket military funerals by the free speech provision in the US Constitution.

The court ruled 8-1 in favour of the Westboro Baptist Church, which was sued by the father of a dead US Marine.

The court upheld a ruling throwing out a $5m (£3m) judgment to the father.

Chief Justice John Roberts said the Constitution could not be thrown out because "picketing was outrageous".

'Inflicting great pain'

"What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to 'special protection' under the First Amendment, and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in opinion for the court.

Church members, led by the Reverend Fred Phelps, have picketed outside numerous military funerals to draw attention to their view that US military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan are punishment for the immorality of Americans, including tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and - as it did here - inflict great pain," the justices said on Wednesday.

Justice Samuel Alito was the only dissenting judge.

The Supreme Court compounded the injury by throwing out the judgement, Mr Alito said in court papers.

"In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner. I therefore respectfully dissent," he wrote.

Following the ruling on Wednesday, Margie Phelps, Mr Phelps's daughter and the lawyer representing the church, told reporters that the case "put a megaphone to the mouth of this little church".

"We read the law. We follow the law. The only way for a different ruling is to shred the First Amendment," she added.

Snyder funeral

Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder was killed in a humvee accident in Iraq in 2006 and his body was returned to the US state of Maryland for burial, which members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed.

The protesters marched with signs outside the soldier's funeral that read "Thank God for Dead Soldiers", "You're Going to Hell" and "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11", which forced the funeral procession to alter its route.

Soon after, Albert Snyder, Matthew's father, came across a poem on Westboro Baptist Church's website attacking his son's upbringing.

Mr Snyder then filed a lawsuit in March 2006 accusing the church of intentionally inflicting emotional distress and won $11m at trial in 2007, which was later reduced by a judge to $5m.

He has argued in the past that the case was not about free speech but rather about how the church, which is based in Topeka, in the state of Kansas, harassed him.

But a federal appeals court in Virginia threw out the judgement, saying the Constitution shielded the church members from liability.
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corestorm (OP)

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03/02/2011 09:08 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
peace
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Godsontoo

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03/02/2011 09:10 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
The family of that slain soldier, i hope know they can take solace in the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ does not condone nor advocate in his teachings this type of bigotry. Jesus's revelation to Saint John admonishes five out of the seven churches for there false teachings, this church most certainly falls into this category. peace
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. †.
Anonymous Coward
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03/02/2011 09:17 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
I FEEL LIKE THE GOVERNMENT LET US DOWN YET AGAIN.HERE IN HARRISON WE HAD BIKERS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY TO SURROUND THE FUNERAL PERCESSION AND KEEP THE PROTESTERS AWAY.THAT MAKES YOUR HEART PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
corestorm (OP)

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03/02/2011 09:22 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
I FEEL LIKE THE GOVERNMENT LET US DOWN YET AGAIN.HERE IN HARRISON WE HAD BIKERS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY TO SURROUND THE FUNERAL PERCESSION AND KEEP THE PROTESTERS AWAY.THAT MAKES YOUR HEART PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 1269917


Yeah, this is where handguns come into play. I cant stand organized hate....
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corestorm (OP)

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03/02/2011 09:22 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
The family of that slain soldier, i hope know they can take solace in the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ does not condone nor advocate in his teachings this type of bigotry. Jesus's revelation to Saint John admonishes five out of the seven churches for there false teachings, this church most certainly falls into this category. peace
 Quoting: Godsontoo


I agree
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ac
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03/02/2011 09:32 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
I don't care that they have freedom of speech, it's a shame some of these trigger happy people can't give them a little scare, they are all so anxious to use their guns? I do object to EVER seeing one single protester on the news at these events. It should go COMPLETELY unnoticed by any press!!
corestorm (OP)

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03/02/2011 09:37 PM
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Re: US Supreme Court allows anti-gay military funeral protests by Westboro County Church
I don't care that they have freedom of speech, it's a shame some of these trigger happy people can't give them a little scare, they are all so anxious to use their guns? I do object to EVER seeing one single protester on the news at these events. It should go COMPLETELY unnoticed by any press!!
 Quoting: ac 1053923


Yeah, we'll it's a good way to sign your ass into hell. I can pretty much be sure of that. protesting a death that is.
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