Jump directly to the content

Supreme Court Sides with Westboro on Funeral Protests

The Supreme Court has decided that Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church is protected under the First Amendment when they protest at military funerals, the Associated Press reports.

The court had picked up the case last May. Westboro pastor Fred Phelps leads his church members in funeral protests, suggesting that military deaths are punishment for the country's tolerance of homosexuality.

Here's an excerpt from the majority opinion from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.:

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. 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. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented alone. "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," he wrote.

Here's more coverage so far from The New York Times, the Kansas City Star, the Wall Street Journal, and Scotusblog.

Related Topics:Politics
Posted:March 2, 2011 at 10:41AM
Gleanings aggregates what others are reporting. Learn more.
Recent Posts
So Long New York: American Bible Society Heads to Philly
A year after putting its iconic building on the market, ABS exits the Big Apple after nearly two centuries.
YWAM Missionaries Won’t Be Deported over Visa Issue
With 300 missionaries at risk during sponsorship suspension, organization learned “hard lessons” about record-keeping.
Robert P. George to Saudi Arabia: Whip Me Instead of Raif Badawi
Offering to take 100 lashes each, 7 of 9 USCIRF commissioners 'would rather share in' blogger's punishment than 'watch him being cruelly tortured.'
No Worship Services in Public Schools, New York Mayor Tells Supreme Court
Bill de Blasio campaigned on the promise of letting churches rent school space. Now he’s asking the Supreme Court to prohibit it.
Christianity Today
Supreme Court Sides with Westboro on Funeral Protests