Supreme Court Says First Amendment Protects Westboro Church’s Protests

WASHINGTON (AP) — Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito says the commitment to free speech doesn’t mean the nation has to tolerate what he calls a “vicious verbal assault.”

But Alito was the only justice to dissent, as the high court today said the First Amendment protects the rights of fundamentalist church members who stage anti-gay protests outside military funerals.

The 8-1 ruling was a win for the Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas, which claims that military deaths are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of gays.

Jon Keller talks with soldiers’ families about the Supreme Court’s decision that the Westboro Church’s protests of soldiers’ funerals are protected.

The decision upholds an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine. He sued church members after they picketed his son’s funeral.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that even “hurtful speech” on public issues must be protected, so that debate isn’t suppressed.

The Marine’s family had the support of 48 states, 42 U.S. senators and veterans groups, who said the church protests amounted to “psychological terrorism.”

But a daughter of the church’s minister, Margie Phelps — who’s also the lawyer who argued the case — says the court would have had to “shred the First Amendment” to rule against the church.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Comments

One Comment

  1. taxedout says:

    Not surprised with the Crowd that is on it now!!!! Another stake to the Heart of America!!!

    1. Cynic says:

      I am very surprized considering the Make up of the Court today.

  2. Cindy says:

    Watching all of the videos about these people – they are so full of hate – something needs to be done about this. Maybe sue them for “emotional distress”?

  3. mikey says:

    May those members of the so-called Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas who protest at military funerals “burn in hell.”

  4. IronManCC says:

    Voltaire’s attitude says it best: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t agree with those wing-nuts in the least; but the minute you start letting the Government tell you what opinions are acceptable or not, what you can say or not say, it’s the end of our Rights for ALL of us, a little bit at a time. That’s why the First Amendment is there, so you can speak freely about the Government, conditions, things you think are right or wrong, and not have to worry that someone will throw you in jail for it. Free Speech means just that and, please, don’t try the “That means I can yell ‘Fire!’ in a crowded movie house” scenario, as that’s totally different and is in no way the intent of the Constitution.

  5. Denise says:

    Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should! Unfortunately these brave men and women are giving their lives so these individuals can express their feelings – it would be nice if they actually put as much effort into a peaceful positive picket vs spewing the hate that they and their “god” seem to feel. They seem to be a well organized and well funded group – just think of how much good they could do – if that was their objective!

  6. Cynic says:

    If the media were to ignore them would they continue their protests?
    Those of the ( Word that WBZ doesn’t allow) agenda couldn’t be happier that they exist.
    If the W-boro people only knew how much the are helping to promote ( Word Tha WBZ doesn’t allow)

  7. KathyD says:

    I agree with the ruling and also think that the young man’s father is a class act. He gets it. It’s too bad Westboro doesn’t.

    Kids from the church youth group I lead protested against Westboro and one of their signs read, “God hates haters”.

    We all get really outraged with WBC’s actions but, to me, there IS compensation — in this life.

  8. emom says:

    How about all haters go live on an island in the middle of no where,,, then they would never be around those they hate,, wack jobs,

  9. dannie says:

    DOESN’T THOOSE IDIOTS REALIZE THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEACH BECAUSE OF EVERY SOLIDER WHO HAS FOUGHT SO THEY COULD HAVE THE RIGHT TO SHOW HOW IGNORANT THEY ARE.

  10. dannie says:

    THEY SAY GODS HATES AMERICA, HATE TO BURST THERE BUBBLE BUT GOD IS AN ILLUSION NEVER WAS .A LIVING BREATHING HUMAN BEING. SO THEY SHOULD CONTIUNE TO PROTEST TO SHOW THE WORLD THAT THEY ALL NEED TO HAVE PSYC. EVALS AND BE MEDICATED.

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