Supreme Court rules in favor of Westboro military funeral protesters

“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. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” — Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts
Yes, it happened. The Supreme Court has overturned a $5 million judgement to the father of a fallen Marine [CNN].

…The justices by a 8-1 vote on Wednesday said members of the Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars.

The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress…

This is a tough decision (and one which I grudgingly concede until I can read the actual decision) which is only tempered if you believe that there is a special place in hell for the Phelps family.

Also, please remember that these protests are stunts in order to evoke a visceral reaction from normal Americans in order to sue them in court and receive funds which keeps bread on the Phelps family table. Do not engage these horrible disgusting animals as that is exactly what they want.

From the comments at BlackFive, a quote from Justice Alito’s dissent:

Alito is the one dissenter. First two paragraphs of his opinion.

“Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.

Petitioner Albert Snyder is not a public figure. He is simply a parent whose son, Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq. Mr. Snyder wanted what is surely the right of any parent who experiences such an incalculable loss: to bury his son in peace. But respondents, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, deprived him of that elementary right. They first issued a press release and thus turned Matthew’s funeral into a tumultuous media event. They then appeared at the church, approached as closely as they could without trespassing, and launched a malevolent verbal attack on Matthew and his family at a time of acute emotional vulnerability. As a result, Albert Snyder suffered severe and lasting emotional injury. The Court now holds that the First Amendment protected respondents’ right to brutalize Mr. Snyder. I cannot agree.”

Law Professor Althouse, The Westboro Baptist Church wins in the Supreme Court in the case about protesting at a soldier’s funeral

Law Professor Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit), A SUPREME COURT WIN for the Westboro Baptist Church. Opinion here.

At Legal Insurrection, Law Professor William Jacobson dissects key portions of the ruling.

At CAJ we are not journalists, professors, or lawyers. We are just citizens. But we believe in our Constitution all of the time, not just when it supports our world view. We strongly condemn the Phelps family and the members of the Westboro Baptist Church when they demonstrate at military funerals. We urge Tea Partiers and other citizens to do their best to shield these grieving families from the stupid, thoughtless pricks of WBC, and to create an atmosphere of dignity and respect for the fallen and their mourners, as so many have already done around the nation.

Freedom of speech must be protected. If Fred Phelps can be intimidated and silenced because I hate his intention and his message then I, too, must expect to be threatened and silenced by someone who hates mine.

We either abide faithfully by our Constitution, or we do not.

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