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Supreme Court backs Westboro Church in funeral verdict

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Postby greeney2 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:17 am

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."
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Postby at1with0 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:46 am

At first glance, I am siding with the Supreme Court on this one if the "protesters" have to be at least 1,000 feet away. I also don't think the father deserved $11 million or $5 million for the defamation of his son's character.

On the other hand, if I were the father, I would certainly have to use every trick in the book to not march over there and beat their freaken asses for disrespecting my son.
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Postby greeney2 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:08 pm

I try to think about the victims of what this is directed to. I wonder how I would react at a time of grief that is beyond anyones comprehension to have this at his funeral. Who is their right minds would do a thing like this, and even think they are close to God in doing it? Its insane for the lack of any better term.

We have one universal standard that seems to be honored in everysingle religion from Judism to Islam, Christian to Buddist of Hindu. That is the respect for the dead. All religions in some way decicate the dead to eternity, and have a standard of not disturbing the dead after interment. It seems to be the only universal standard to all religions, some after life rituals, standard of care, and respect for the physical remains of the dead. This act of disturbing that funeral goes against every religion since the dawn of man, it surpasses all boundries of deciency whatsoever. It is not an act from God, nor guided by any standard of religion anyplace on earth. It is an act done by those of total ignorance, yet the parodox is the act was condoned and ruled acceptable by a group of Judges thought to be of the most intellegent and educated in our society. Quite a contrast if you ask me. I wonder what God must be thinking?
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Postby SmokinJoe » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:06 pm

It amazes me how any "Christian" can pick one sin, call it bad and ignore their own sins. None of them have the right to stand "representing God" and do what they are doing.

They may have the constitutional right to speech, but simple decency in such a time of loss should prevail. To me, the biggest sin is for anyone to stand at a funeral, during their brother's/sister's most devastatingly painful time in their lives, grieving the loss of one they loved, and heckle them into even more misery.

I cannot ever picture Christ standing at someone's funeral and causing the family more pain and misery. If we were meant to judge, then there'd be no reason for God to. imo.

I can see it now..

...the protesters stand before God reviewing this moment and say.. "no worries God, we judged this one. You should have seen us, we made his whole family cry in despair." God replies, "you created so much hate and anger, you made the devil proud."
Dawkins thinks belief in God is an excuse to evade thinking in the scientific world. Sadly, he is ignorant to the list of christian scientists who have contributed & founded many of the sciences he himself believes in. How ironic.
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Postby greeney2 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:39 pm

Worst part about it was if they were judging the dead person, he wasn;t even a gay man, all we did was die in war for his country, he had nothing to do with the issue the Westborrow church was protesting. Secondly, if anyone was about to be saved and turn to Christ, and saw them, it probably made those people run for the hills. Their actions do more to stop people from finding the Lord than helping anyone find the Lord IMHO.
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Postby nemisis001 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:26 am

I wonder if it is illegal to hit them with water ballons or with squirt guns??
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Postby at1with0 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:01 am

Probably depends on what the contents of the balloons and squirt guns are.
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Postby bionic » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:50 pm

I think other chuch groups need to start finding out when and where these people plan their next 'demonstration' to act as some kind of buffer zone..human shield..maybe with signs, respect of love and support for the grieving families
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Postby SmokinJoe » Sat Mar 12, 2011 8:41 pm

Good idea, bionic. Have banners held all the way around the entire area where those losers can't see the funeral.

To even consider interrupting and disrespecting a funeral like that is NOT something that comes from a benevolent Creator. It only comes from hate, anger, and evil. Definitely, this group is only supporting what the Devil's method. I'm sure they are making the Devil proud when they spread their hate and anger like that.
Dawkins thinks belief in God is an excuse to evade thinking in the scientific world. Sadly, he is ignorant to the list of christian scientists who have contributed & founded many of the sciences he himself believes in. How ironic.
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Postby at1with0 » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:23 pm

The creator is evidently not exactly benevolent. But I don't think the WBC exactly are following the teachings of Christ. :naughty:
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