The U.S. Supreme Court seems to be leaning to side with the parents of dead Iraq War solider Matthew Snyder over a lawsuit filed against Westboro Baptist Church.
His funeral was picketed by members of the fringe cult like Westboro Baptist Church, who pickets and demonstrates across the country at funerals of dead soldiers coming back from Iraq, claiming their deaths are the result of Americans turning away from God toward homosexuality.
Justice Kennedy, a staunch defender of 1st Amendment rights, said that even certain harrasing conduct was not always protected by the 1st Amendment.
Read on to find out what the justices had to say…
“Torts and crimes are committed with words all the time,” he said, referring to lawsuits. “The 1st Amendment doesn’t stop state tort law in appropriate circumstances,” Justice Breyer added.
During the hearings today in Washington D.C. at the Supreme Court, justices, including newly elected justice Elena Kagan, were taken aback by the responses of Margie J. Phelps, family lawyer for Westboro Baptist and daughter of the founder of the church.
Justice Kagan asked Phelps,
“Would it be permissible…for the protesters to pick out a wounded soldier and follow him around,” holding “offensive and outrageous signs” near his home and calling him a “war criminal?” In such a case, “does he have a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress?”
“My answer, Justice Kagan, is no, I don’t believe that person should have a cause of action.”
“This is a case about exploiting a private family’s grief,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “The question is: Why should the 1st Amendment tolerate exploiting this Marine’s family when you have so many other forums for getting across your message?”
Justice Alito asked,
“Suppose protesters stopped a grandmother whose son had been killed in the war, and they “speak to her in the most vile terms” and say they were happy he was killed. Is this protected free speech?”
One of the signs a protester held at the funeral read “Thank God for IEDs.”
The court won’t make a ruling right away, it will take several months for justices to ruminate on the details and make a decision which could possibly take months.