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Supreme Court backs Westboro Church in funeral verdict
March 3, 2011
8:17 am
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greeney2
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The US Supreme court should be ashamed of this ruling, Judge Alito is the only one of the bunch who saw this as it should have been. If this is what everyone wants as the liberal intrupetation of our laws, count me out. We we can not even see the difference between a Constitutional right, and what is common deciency, I'm in the wrong era of time.

The Westboro Baptist Church is not representative of other Christian religions, or even the view of other Baptist Churches IMHO. They have some perverted idea of how God wants them to act.

Supreme Court: Anti-gay funeral picketers allowed
ShareretweetEmailPrint AP – Albert Snyder, left, speaks to the media during a news conference following the Supreme Court's ruling …
Slideshow:Westboro Baptist Church Play Video Video:High court rules for military funeral protesters AP Play Video Video:Westboro Church: Verdict amplifies their message AP By MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press Mark Sherman, Associated Press – 1 hr 44 mins ago
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a grieving father's pain over mocking protests at his Marine son's funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for free speech. All but one justice sided with a fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

The 8-1 decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects "even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate."

The decision ended a lawsuit by Albert Snyder, who sued church members for the emotional pain they caused by showing up at his son Matthew's funeral. As they have at hundreds of other funerals, the Westboro members held signs with provocative messages, including "Thank God for dead soldiers," `'You're Going to Hell," `'God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11," and one that combined the U.S. Marine Corps motto, Semper Fi, with a slur against gay men.

Justice Samuel Alito, the lone dissenter, said Snyder wanted only to "bury his son in peace." Instead, Alito said, the protesters "brutally attacked" Matthew Snyder to attract public attention. "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," he said.

The ruling, though, was in line with many earlier court decisions that said the First Amendment exists to protect robust debate on public issues and free expression, no matter how distasteful. A year ago, the justices struck down a federal ban on videos that show graphic violence against animals. In 1988, the court unanimously overturned a verdict for the Rev. Jerry Falwell in his libel lawsuit against Hustler magazine founder Larry Flynt over a raunchy parody ad.

What might have made this case different was that the Snyders are not celebrities or public officials but private citizens. Both Roberts and Alito agreed that the Snyders were the innocent victims of the long-running campaign by the church's pastor, the Rev. Fred Phelps, and his family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church. Roberts said there was no doubt the protesters added to Albert Snyder's "already incalculable grief."

But Roberts said the frequency of the protests — and the church's practice of demonstrating against Catholics, Jews and many other groups — is an indication that Phelps and his flock were not mounting a personal attack against Snyder but expressing deeply held views on public topics.

Indeed, Matthew Snyder was not gay. But "Westboro believes that God is killing American soldiers as punishment for the nation's sinful policies," Roberts said.

"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," Roberts said.

Snyder's reaction, at a news conference in York, Pa.: "My first thought was, eight justices don't have the common sense God gave a goat." He added, "We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity."

He said it was possible he would have to pay the Phelpses around $100,000, which they are seeking in legal fees, since he lost the lawsuit. The money would, in effect, finance more of the same activity he fought against, Snyder said.

Margie Phelps, a daughter of the minister and a lawyer who argued the case at the Supreme Court, said she expected the outcome. "The only surprise is that Justice Alito did not feel compelled to follow his oath," Phelps said. "We read the law. We follow the law. The only way for a different ruling is to shred the First Amendment."

She also offered her church's view of the decision. "I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but here's the core point: the wrath of God is pouring onto this land. Rather than trying to shut us up, use your platforms to tell this nation to mourn for your sins."

Veterans groups reacted to the ruling with dismay. Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander Richard L. Eubank said, "The Westboro Baptist Church may think they have won, but the VFW will continue to support community efforts to ensure no one hears their voice, because the right to free speech does not trump a family's right to mourn in private."

The picketers obeyed police instructions and stood about 1,000 feet from the Catholic church in Westminster, Md., where the funeral took place in March of 2006.

The protesters drew counter-demonstrators, as well as media coverage and a heavy police presence to maintain order. The result was a spectacle that led to altering the route of the funeral procession.

Several weeks later, Albert Snyder was surfing the Internet for tributes to his son from other soldiers and strangers when he came upon a poem on the church's website that assailed Matthew's parents for the way they brought up their son.

Soon after, Snyder filed a lawsuit accusing the Phelpses of intentionally inflicting emotional distress. He won $11 million at trial, later reduced by a judge to $5 million.

The federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., threw out the verdict and said the Constitution shielded the church members from liability. The Supreme Court agreed.

Forty-eight states, 42 U.S. senators and veterans groups had sided with Snyder, asking the court to shield funerals from the Phelps family's "psychological terrorism."

While distancing themselves from the church's message, media organizations, including The Associated Press, urged the court to side with the Phelps family because of concerns that a victory for Snyder could erode speech rights.

Roberts described the court's holding as narrow, and in a separate opinion Justice Stephen Breyer suggested that in other circumstances governments would not be "powerless to provide private individuals with necessary protection."

But in this case, Breyer said, it would be wrong to "punish Westboro for seeking to communicate its views on matters of public concern."

May 4, 2013
9:01 am
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greeney2
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Thought I would unearth this one from a few years ago. These people protested the funeral of a US soldier killed in action, as Gods rath against Gays, and the soldier wasn't even gay.

With all the protesters now demanding the Boston Bomber not be allowed to be buried in the USA, most cemeteries are refusing to allow him.

Where are the Westborrow Baptists being completely silent and not protesting this person, for his perverted acts and radical Muslim views, but they can see fit to protest a soldier who died for this country.

Hard to believe our US Supreme Court ruled in their favor to protest.

May 4, 2013
10:04 am
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frrostedman
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"greeney2" wrote: Thought I would unearth this one from a few years ago. These people protested the funeral of a US soldier killed in action, as Gods rath against Gays, and the soldier wasn't even gay.

With all the protesters now demanding the Boston Bomber not be allowed to be buried in the USA, most cemeteries are refusing to allow him.

Where are the Westborrow Baptists being completely silent and not protesting this person, for his perverted acts and radical Muslim views, but they can see fit to protest a soldier who died for this country.

Hard to believe our US Supreme Court ruled in their favor to protest.

Yes it is hard to believe, because in this day and age, the US Supreme Court tends to reject the original meaning of the Constitution and conjure up their own Liberal interpretation. They judged correctly in this case, as despicable as the Westboro congregation behaved. We have to understand, the Supreme Court Judges are held to a different standard because the judgments they render are used as a basis to render future judgments. Had they ruled against the Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest peacefully, then they would have opened the floodgates for future cases and our freedoms (right to assemble, right to free speech) as a result, would be diminished nearly to the point of being taken away altogether.

I don't think the Justices took personal pleasure in their ruling, but they ruled correctly. Strictly moral decisions are not made by the Court, and thank God for that.

Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man. - Albert Einstein

May 4, 2013
3:58 pm
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at1with0
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"frrostedman" wrote: Strictly moral decisions are not made by the Court, and thank God for that.

The gay people who want to get married will, I hope, benefit from this principle.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

May 4, 2013
7:33 pm
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greeney2
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"frrostedman" wrote: Strictly moral decisions are not made by the Court, and thank God for that.

Strictly Moral is what makes us not agree with many Supreme Court rulings, so not so sure you are thanking God for that, many times. Other issues become a question of what is strictly moral and not, and who defines that.

Do we really need to defend out freedom of speech and expression by allowing a morally repulsive act to be done, namely disrespecting a families privacy while burying their dead? That freedom causes anguish, pain and suffering for others, at a private time of grief, can not be called morally right.

My point was not the Supreme Court ruling in reposting this, it was a question of why the Westborro people saw fit to protest a US hero, but not this scumbag.

May 7, 2013
4:41 am
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qmark
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"greeney2" wrote:

My point was not the Supreme Court ruling in reposting this, it was a question of why the Westborro people saw fit to protest a US hero, but not this scumbag.

The answer is fairly simple in my opinion, or at least I think it should be considered. The reason they are not protesting this murderer, which was fueled by hatred, is because they are busy going about their father's business. Judging by their fruits, one could make a fairly decent assumption on who their father is, and his business has much in common with Islam. Both are wolves, the difference is Westboro tries to wear the sheep's clothing.

May 7, 2013
5:25 pm
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at1with0
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Apparently they're going to picket Jeff Hanneman's funeral...Slayer fans will not be pleased.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

August 14, 2014
11:16 pm
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greeney2
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I did not want to derail the General thread about Robin Williams, so decided to elaborate in this thread about it. The news had a report that the Westborrow people may picket Robin's funeral, and have publicly smeared his name already stating how he mocks God in his comedy, and has already gone to Hell, among other things said.

I hope our US Supreme Court is again proud of their ruling towards these people, protecting their rights to do so, and evidently writing these kinds of things while a family is is complete devastation and mourning the loss of a Father and Husband. If this is the wisdom of our highest courts, not being able to separate right from wrong, common decency and temper that into our laws, we are in sad shape. Why this even got to any court is beyond me, if you define what would be a frivolous lawsuit.

Every culture in the world, including those of radical Muslims have a certain respect for their own dead, have funerals, and ceremonies for being laid to rest. A certain reverence for the departed, is maintained in a human manner, is virtually universal in every continent. The rights of the dead should prevail in that their final dedication to their final resting place, should be first and foremost, along with the privacy of loved ones doing it, in a unhampered way. The idea of the Westborrow Church again being allowed to interfere with what is a spiritual right passing from this life, is beyond me. It is repulsive to every culture and religion on earth.

As far as these people are concerned, they target, those who would not react with violence, and know they are defenseless disrupting them. They would not dare protest the funeral of a known gang member leader, where they would know, they could face a major drive by shooting. It would not be the first time at a gang funeral drive by shooting occur. They would never had protested the likes of a Jimmy Hoffa with a vile message like this, knowing a thousand teamsters were right across the street with clubs in their trunks. Nor would they converge into Middle East and wave signs are the terrorists occupying Muslims convert to Christianity, and give Bibles out . No, they only pick safe targets, like a brat hiding behind his mothers skirt, making faces.

Lets all hope they do not do what they threaten. I was under the impression, since it was a family kind of clan, that when the old man died, the son was vowing to change their image. I guess not. The old man certainly was a hateful and twisted individual.

August 15, 2014
4:41 am
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frrostedman
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I think the fact that the despicable Westboro congregation is allowed to do what they do, is one of the major things that separates us from other countries. It wouldn't make me feel sad at all if the Westboro group was rounded up and systematically executed. I say that to make it clear I stand against them with every fiber of my being.

But think of what would happen if the Supreme Court silenced this group. Who knows who the next group to be silenced would be, using that Supreme Court decision as justification. Maybe the next ones are a Tea Party group protesting at an Occupy Wall Street gathering. It's best to allow freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, even at the cost of allowing these Westboro thugs to anger people like they do.

I heard that Robin Williams' daughter was tweeted over and over by horrible people photo-shopping pictures of him hanging from a rope. What is wrong with people? Such brazen, unmitigated evil is so prevalent in society today. Were so many people decades ago, just as twisted but stayed in the shadows because they didn't have an outlet like Twitter and the internet? Or is evil growing. Stuff like these twitter people is no different to me than sociopaths who set cats on fire.

Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man. - Albert Einstein

August 15, 2014
5:23 am
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at1with0
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There's nothing in the constitution that prohibits them to do this crap. If you don't agree, then we need to amend it to prohibit purposeful desecration at funerals.

But if they ever got within shouting distance with a funeral I attend, they are in for it. It would be over for them.

"it is easy to grow crazy"

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