Funeral Protestors Win in Synder v. Phelps Case
The Kansas based Westboro Baptist Church protesters are notorious for picketing outside the funerals for soldiers that have died. They carry signs that boast “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” among many other hurtful statements.
Their protests are hurtful, angry, ugly and full of hate. The Westboro Baptist Church proclaims that the reason why soldiers are dying is because America is tolerating homosexuality.
These protesters were sued for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" by Albert Snyder. The protesters picketed outside the funeral of his son who is a fallen Marine.
The reason for the Supreme Court decision was for the following:
The protesters were speaking on public matters. (For example: war, politics and church.)
The protesters were speaking in a public street. The protesters followed the law and were within 1000 feet from the funeral without violence. The Supreme Court decision was 8-1 with Justice Alito standing alone in his stance on the issue. Words that are considered “fighting words” are not protected by the First Amendment and Alito believes the protesters message to be as such.
Justice Allito commented that the protesters “brutally attacked” Matthew Snyder and that they are using the grief of others to make their voices heard.
Chief Justice Roberts commented that, "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,"
Although the views of these protesters are extremely unpopular, our First Amendment is something that our country takes very seriously and is crucial to our freedom. It seems ironic that these protesters are using their freedom of speech against the very people that protect it. Sadly the irony is drowned out by their hate.