Supremes favor Westboro

 Posted by at 17:48  Politics
Mar 022011
 

I do not like the way the Supreme Court ruled today, but I don’t see how they could have ruled any other way. If we are to allow free speech in this country, we don’t get to pick and choose which speech to allow and which not to allow. As long as no other laws are broken, anybody is pretty much free to express themselves in any way they wish… even if it means making asses of themselves, as in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Supreme Court allows military funeral anti-gay protests

(Reuters) – The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that members of a fundamentalist church have a free-speech right to hold anti-gay protests at military funerals to promote their view that God hates America for tolerating homosexuality.

In a case pitting free-speech versus privacy rights, the nation’s highest court held that the picketing at a private funeral and even hurtful protest messages were protected by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

The decision by an 8-1 vote was the latest in a long line of Supreme Court rulings that free-speech rights protected even outrageous or offensive conduct, including the burning of the American flag.

The ruling was a defeat for Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006. He sued after the family’s funeral service at a Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Maryland, drew unwanted protests by members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.

The protesters carried signs that stated, “God Hates You,” “You Are Going To Hell,” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

phelps.jpg

Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps and other church members have protested hundreds of funerals of military members killed in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of their religious view that God is punishing America for its tolerance of gays and lesbians.

Phelps founded the church in 1955 and it has about 70 members made up mostly of his relatives.

In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts said the church’s beliefs and its signs related to issues of public importance, including political and moral conduct in the United States.

Roberts said the country may not agree with the church’s views, but said it cannot react to the pain the protesters inflicted by punishing the speaker.

“As a nation, we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” he said.

This ruling sets a precedent for this court which, I believe, is going to prove very important in the not too distant future. Mr. Roberts and his fellow conservatives are going to find it very difficult to reverse themselves.
 

Wrong

 Posted by at 15:14  Politics, Religion, Republicans
Mar 302010
 

Activist judges…

Marine’s father ordered to pay Westboro’s court costs

Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters say a court has ordered him to pay the protesters’ appeal costs.

On Friday, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered that Albert Snyder of York, Pa., pay costs associated with Fred Phelps’ appeal. Phelps is the leader of the Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at the funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in Westminster in 2006.

Lawyers for Snyder say the Court of Appeals has ordered him to pay $16,510.80 to Phelps for costs relating to the appeal, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Court of Appeals’ decision.

They say that Snyder is also struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are extremely disappointed,” said Sean E. Summers, an attorney for Snyder. He added that the U.S. Supreme Court will likely hear the case during its October term and make a decision in June of next year.

“The Court of Appeals certainly could have waited until the Supreme Court made its decision,” Summers added. “There was no hardship presented by Phelps.”

Summers said there is no timetable for when the costs must be paid, but if his client doesn’t have the money when Phelps requests payment the matter would go into collections. Snyder could lose his property or his wages, Summers said.

Summers added that if Snyder pays Phelps’ court costs and then receives a favorable ruling from the Supreme Court, “imagine him trying to get money back from Phelps.”

The high court agreed earlier this month to consider whether the protesters’ message is protected by the First Amendment or limited by the competing privacy and religious rights of the mourners.

phelps.jpg

 

Oct 312007
 

Though it is doubtful that he will ever be able to collect, it is good that this man won…

Jury Awards Father $11M in Funeral Case

wswed04.jpgBALTIMORE (AP) – A grieving father won a nearly $11 million verdict Wednesday against a fundamentalist Kansas church that pickets military funerals out of a belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.

Snyder’s attorney, Craig Trebilcock, had urged jurors to determine an amount “that says don’t do this in Maryland again. Do not bring your circus of hate to Maryland again.”

Church members routinely picket funerals of military personnel killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, carrying signs such as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates fags.”