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Court to rule in military funeral protest case(Phelps & Westboro)

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RamboLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 04:39 PM
Original message
Court to rule in military funeral protest case(Phelps & Westboro)
Source: Washington Post

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will review whether the anti-gay protests at funerals of American soldiers are protected by the First Amendment.

The case is brought by a Maryland father whose son's 2006 funeral was picketed by members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Westboro pastor Fred Phelps contends that the deaths of American soldiers are punishment for the nation's tolerance for homosexuality.

Phelps and members of his church -- which consists primarily of his family members -- have picketed at funerals across the country, carrying signs that read "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "Semper fi fags."

A jury in Baltimore awarded Albert Snyder more than $10 million in damages, an amount later cut in half and then thrown out by U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond.

The three-judge panel said the signs could not be reasonably understood to be referring directly to Snyder and his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder. And the court said that as distasteful as it might find Phelps's rhetoric, it was protected as speech about issues in the national debate.


Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...
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kestrel91316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 04:42 PM
Response to Original message
1. In a perfect world, the old douchebag himself would go before the USSC to argue
this case, and would make a decidedly less-than-favorable impression on the justices, and would get far more than he bargained for, perhaps even jail time for threatening them. But alas, that is unlikely. I'm sure he has a hired gun at this point.
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pipoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. He has several family member lawyers
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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 04:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. 5 to 4 in favor of Phelps.
America's hope lies in in-breeding.
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 05:25 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. I agree with this one, and am only disappointed it wasn't unanimous
Phelps has the right to be as nutty as he wants to be.

I would have preferred to see them decide on the continued tax exempt status of churches that are 100% political organizations. Add to that the fact that it's a naked tax dodge by one corrupt family and manages to keep their books away from prying eyes, and there is a compelling reason to ask this question.

I remain convinced that much of Phelps's funding comes from plutocrats who would be delighted to chip away at the first amendment.
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cowman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 05:07 PM
Response to Original message
3. As distasteful as
this asshole is, don't curb his 1st amend right while at the same time I would definitly look the other way if at every soldiers funeral, Vets showed up and beat the living shit out of these hate mongers
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peacebird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 05:57 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I have heard Phelps funds his travel to funerals by suing people who attack him
I did hear that one group stood mocking and laughing at them, which caused them to fold up and go home in short order. Perhaps that is a better approach?
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cowman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. If that works
better than you are correct. Violence only begets violence
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 06:43 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. What kind of violence would shooting the whole damned family beget?
If I'm on the jury for a returned soldier who finishes them off, the guy's gonna walk. I may even figure out how to put a medal around his neck.

Let the Phelps family meet their vengeful deity.
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cowman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. If I knew
for sure that it could be done with no repercusions, then I could go for that
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-09-10 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #11
12. It may well happen
A lot of the people coming home in coffins have friends who they served with who would attend the funerals. Surely somebody's going to get unhinged seeing the Phelps family doing their thing.

If that soldier doesn't get his case handled with an insanity defense, there's likely to be jury nullification.
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Flaneur Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-09-10 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. So, you guys are cool with murdering people who are obnoxious.
Right. There's some good old-fashioned American values. Get a rope!
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customerserviceguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Mar-09-10 10:03 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. This is the Phelps family
They're beyond obnoxious. Nobody likes them, right or left.

All I'm talking about is some G.I. pushed over the edge, that's all...
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Moosepoop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 06:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. I agree with the 1st Amendment argument as far as charges go.
Criminal charges, that is. But I still think that civil lawsuits with damages should be allowed simply for the disruption of funerals in that manner. Can't prove who the signs were meant to refer to? Fine. But the emotional damage stemming from the picketing and disruption of a loved one's funeral itself should be something that can be addressed through the civil courts. The Phelps family is free to picket outside the Pentagon or a military base if they simply want to make a political statement about the military. Picketing funerals of strangers should be answerable with civil litigation, I would think.

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wizstars Donating Member (792 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-08-10 06:16 PM
Response to Original message
7. How about this idea?
Allow Phelps' picketing, but: Enact a new law saying that anyone convicted of assaulting someone picketing a military funeral would a) be guilty of a misdemeanor; b) pay a fine of $1 (suspended), and c) serve one day in prison (also suspended).

Getting the sh1t beat out of 'em a few times might change their strategy a bit...........
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Lurks Often Donating Member (505 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-10-10 10:56 AM
Response to Original message
15. Ugh
It's disgusting that I have to hope they win their court case so my 1st Amendment rights are protected.

One of the prior posters is correct, there is at least one thing the Left and the Right agree on, that the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps and his family are vile scum.
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LeFleur1 Donating Member (973 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-10-10 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #15
16. How About Rights to Privacy and Laws on Harassment?
Why should loonies have the right to disrupt something personal? Those attending any funeral are usually members of a certain church or religion and they are usually friends. To allow any crazy lunatic to disrupt such personal occasions is carrying things too far. What next? Weddings? Anniversary celebrations? This is just nuts and any sane person knows it is. I doubt very much that the writers of the constitution had personal celebrations or personal gatherings for attendees to grieve together in mind to be disrupted by strangers who want their faces in the news and excuse it as 'freedom of speech'.
People today have the right to enlist in the military. They have the right to be buried in peace, I would think.
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Lurks Often Donating Member (505 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-10-10 02:42 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. I don't disagree with you
but where do you draw that line?

Who's the next group or cause that gets banned?

I despise them, but they obey the law, protest on public land and do not physically interfere with the funeral.

I have come across no one, regardless of their political views, who agree with what Fred Phelps and his spawn are doing and most would love to see them get the crap beat out of them, but once you start setting legal precedents, especially at the US Supreme Court level, one does not always end up the results one expected or wanted.
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LAGC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-10-10 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
18. Wired made it out to be a case of religion vs. free speech rights.
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/03/funeral-flap-j... /

It makes you wonder, what's more important? The right of the people practicing their religion with their religious funeral, or the right of political protesters practicing free speech? Both are obstensibly protected by the First Amendment.

If push came to shove, I think I'd have to lean in favor of free speech over right to practice religion uncontested. I hope the Supreme Court doesn't overrule the lower court's ruling. As distasteful as it is, Phelps right to speak and make an ass out of himself should be upheld.
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