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afroloq
03-02-2011, 08:00 AM
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount anti-gay protests outside military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families.

The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son's funeral.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Roberts said free speech rights in the First Amendment shield the funeral protesters, noting that they obeyed police directions and were 1,000 feet from the church.

"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. "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."

Alito strongly disagreed. "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.

Matthew Snyder died in Iraq in 2006 and his body was returned to the United States for burial. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who have picketed military funerals for several years, decided to protest outside the Westminster, Md., church where his funeral was to be held.

The Rev. Fred Phelps and his family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church have picketed many military funerals in their quest to draw attention to their incendiary view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality.

They showed up with their usual signs, 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.

The church members 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 attacked 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.

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

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/03/02/us/politics/AP-US-Supreme-Court-Funeral-Protests.html?_r=1&hp

I don't like the decision but I can respect it...but regardless it's disgusting

Gregory
03-02-2011, 08:02 AM
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

I think this surprises me as much as the decision.

Keith P.
03-02-2011, 08:10 AM
Yeah, its the price we pay for our freedoms.

That being said, if some grieving parent put a bullet in these people I'd be the first dancing the lambada on their graves.

usagi20
03-02-2011, 08:11 AM
As despicable and loathsome as the Westboro Baptist Church is, we have to protect their right to free speech, just like everyone else's, just as we would for a Satanist group or an atheist group. Free speech must apply to all of us or it will ultimately apply to none of us.

The Dean
03-02-2011, 08:12 AM
These ass-hats are from my home town and try as we might, we can't get rid of them because the law is on their side. However, you can expect one of the largest protests at ol' Fred's funeral.

While they are protected, I do think they should be held accountable for the untrue things they say. Slander and libel should still apply to their hate speech.

Jason California
03-02-2011, 08:13 AM
I am happy it did not go against them.

BriRedfern
03-02-2011, 08:14 AM
Right decision.

Too bad civility is dead.

MIKE D
03-02-2011, 08:16 AM
Right call. They are free to do that. Also means the angels are free to go there and block the mourner's view of them.

SAVETHEB
03-02-2011, 08:19 AM
As despicable and loathsome as the Westboro Baptist Church is, we have to protect their right to free speech, just like everyone else's, just as we would for a Satanist group or an atheist group. Free speech must apply to all of us or it will ultimately apply to none of us.

I like how you lump atheists in with the WBC and Satanists.

WinterRose
03-02-2011, 08:23 AM
Well... Happily, they've provoked (or perhaps trolled) up the ire of Anonymous... So much for their internets.

usagi20
03-02-2011, 08:27 AM
I like how you lump atheists in with the WBC and Satanists.

I like how you think there's nothing wrong with lumping the WBC in with Satanists.

Caley Tibbittz
03-02-2011, 08:29 AM
This isn't free speech. It's harassment.

RebootedCorpse
03-02-2011, 08:31 AM
The Constitution also protects my right to kick them in the taint!

That's what my attorney told me.

http://pacejmiller.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/bob-loblaw-arrested-development.jpg

Dan
03-02-2011, 08:32 AM
I like how you think there's nothing wrong with lumping the WBC in with Satanists.

They both believe in a god that encourages hate.

Thudpucker
03-02-2011, 08:54 AM
I don't like the decision.

Personally I think this met the requirements for intentional infliction of emotional distress. What Phelps did met all 4 of the elements:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress

1.Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
2.Defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
3.Defendant’s act is the cause of the distress; and
4.Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendant’s conduct.

Roman Noodles
03-02-2011, 08:55 AM
As despicable and loathsome as the Westboro Baptist Church is, we have to protect their right to free speech, just like everyone else's, just as we would for a Satanist group or an atheist group. Free speech must apply to all of us or it will ultimately apply to none of us.

I'm not sure I like these two so closely linked. :?

BriRedfern
03-02-2011, 08:58 AM
Good god. I thought it was a fine post Usagi.

There is nothing in your post equating Satanists with atheists or WBCers other than their right to say whatever the hell they want.

It seemed to me that you were including two extremes of the religious spectrum to clearly include everything in between.

Come on people.

Roman Noodles
03-02-2011, 09:02 AM
Good god. I thought it was a fine post Usagi.

There is nothing in your post equating Satanists with atheists or WBCers other their right to say whatever the hell they want.

It seemed to me that you were including two extremes of the religious spectrum to clearly include everything in between.

Come on people.

I personally criticized nothing. If I was, I would have been more specific. Just stated I'm not sure how I feel about that phrasing, especially, since I wouldn't consider "Satanism" the farthest extreme of the religious spectrum.

Very subjective choice, that's all. No problems with his point in the least.

But I digress. I think we can keep this thread civil, folks.

Endy52
03-02-2011, 09:05 AM
Just because it's legal, doesn't make it right. I'm not too knee-jerk in my reactions, but these people are so over the line with their venom and hateful rhetoric ... I couldn't give a flying fuck whether it's legal or not. What they do is wrong on so many levels.

BriRedfern
03-02-2011, 09:07 AM
I don't think it is "the" furthest extreme either, which is why I didn't say it was. It is an extreme, and that is how most people view it.

But I didn't make Usagi's post, so I don't know that is even what he was doing, I just thought it was an odd thing for multiple people to comment on.

Buk Was Right
03-02-2011, 09:08 AM
We can get a follow up Supreme Court ruling that these people, while apparently constitutionally protected, are vile and disgusting excuses for human beings?

I think I'd feel better if the courts came down on that officially.

Keith P.
03-02-2011, 09:09 AM
I posted this on the Political Thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50r0CnKq7_k

Are these people even human anymore?

Brother Power the Gong
03-02-2011, 09:09 AM
I posted this on the Political Thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50r0CnKq7_k

Are these people even human anymore?

Of course, animals don't treat their young so poorly.

Roman Noodles
03-02-2011, 09:10 AM
I don't think it is "the" furthest extreme either, which is why I didn't say it was. It is an extreme, and that is how most people view it.

But I didn't make Usagi's post, so I don't know that is even what he was doing, I just thought it was an odd thing for multiple people to comment on.

I didn't even see the other comments, they kind of blended in with all the general "Westboro is the root of all evil" posts. I probably wouldn't have commented if I had seen them.



Although, they do represent (almost) everything wrong with certain aspects of humanity.

Ray G.
03-02-2011, 09:10 AM
I think this surprises me as much as the decision.

This isn't the first time Alito dissented. The previous time was something to do with animal rights.

The guy's a moralist. He doesn't care so much about the Constitution as what "feels right". It really rubs me the wrong way, much as I sympathize with his feelings.

BriRedfern
03-02-2011, 09:12 AM
This isn't the first time Alito dissented. The previous time was something

The guy's a moralist. He doesn't care so much about the Constitution as what "feels right". It really rubs me the wrong way, much as I sympathize with his feelings.

That doesn't sound like the best view for a Supreme Court Justice to hold on the law. At all.

Jonathan Callan
03-02-2011, 02:00 PM
I like how you think there's nothing wrong with lumping the WBC in with Satanists.

You're right. In my experience, satanists would not in their wildest dreams behave like this group of idiots.

michealdark
03-02-2011, 02:01 PM
Yeah, its the price we pay for our freedoms.

That being said, if some grieving parent put a bullet in these people I'd be the first dancing the lambada on their graves.

I'd be the second.

Thudpucker
03-02-2011, 02:05 PM
This isn't the first time Alito dissented. The previous time was something to do with animal rights.

The guy's a moralist. He doesn't care so much about the Constitution as what "feels right". It really rubs me the wrong way, much as I sympathize with his feelings.

Maybe I'm missing something but that is what the whole case is about, isn't it? What 'feels right'?

This case is not about freedom of speech. It's about wether or not there was an intentional infliction of emotional distress. That's a judgement call, a 'feels right' call.

Like I posted earlier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress

1.Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
2.Defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
3.Defendant’s act is the cause of the distress; and
4.Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendant’s conduct.

Jonathan Callan
03-02-2011, 02:07 PM
I posted this on the Political Thread.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50r0CnKq7_k

Are these people even human anymore?

Jesus Christ. They really do remind me of real life versions of trolls.

michealdark
03-02-2011, 02:14 PM
They remind me, minus the murder aspects, or either Jonestown or the Manson Family

I've Got the Monkeys
03-02-2011, 03:11 PM
Yeah, they're fuckbags, but for free speech to mean anything, it can't be curtailed.

xyzzy
03-02-2011, 05:38 PM
Maybe I'm missing something but that is what the whole case is about, isn't it? What 'feels right'?

This case is not about freedom of speech. It's about wether or not there was an intentional infliction of emotional distress. That's a judgement call, a 'feels right' call.

Like I posted earlier:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress

1.Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
2.Defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
3.Defendant’s act is the cause of the distress; and
4.Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendant’s conduct.

I think that the fact that the father wasn't even aware of the protests until well after the funeral when somebody told him about them really hurts the case.

Thudpucker
03-02-2011, 05:42 PM
I think that the fact that the father wasn't even aware of the protests until well after the funeral when somebody told him about them really hurts the case.

Hadn't heard that part. Yes, that definately changes things.

Wigner's Friend
03-02-2011, 07:04 PM
The court decided to rule in favor of the defense of those assholes First Amendment right because the issue presented before the court was whether the pickets were a matter of public concern or private concern. Matters of public concern have special protection under the First Amendment, because the amendment reflects our national commitment to a robust and wide-open debate on ideas.

Luckily, many states have already taken the issue on in a constitutional way by criminalizing protests around funerals as disorderly conduct.

RebootedCorpse
03-03-2011, 12:29 AM
I don't like the decision.

Personally I think this met the requirements for intentional infliction of emotional distress. What Phelps did met all 4 of the elements:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intentional_infliction_of_emotional_distress

1.Defendant acted intentionally or recklessly; and
2.Defendant’s conduct was extreme and outrageous; and
3.Defendant’s act is the cause of the distress; and
4.Plaintiff suffers severe emotional distress as a result of defendant’s conduct.

That might work in a civil case after the fact, but it is not grounds for prohibiting an act of Constitutionally protected free speech.

Foolish Mortal
03-03-2011, 06:15 AM
And of course Sarah Palin chimes in...


“Common sense & decency absent as wacko ‘church’ allowed hate msgs spewed@ soldiers' funerals but we can't invoke God's name in public square,” Palin tweeted.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50525.html#ixzz1FY112RPi

I'm pretty sure there's nothing stopping people from parading up and down a public sidewalk carrying signs talking about God.

Brother Power the Gong
03-03-2011, 07:03 AM
And of course Sarah Palin chimes in...



I'm pretty sure there's nothing stopping people from parading up and down a public sidewalk carrying signs talking about God.

In fact, I think WBC does that, like, all the time.

michealdark
03-03-2011, 07:15 AM
She had me until the bolded section.

Even when she tries to make a point people could agree with she botches it.

dasNdanger
03-03-2011, 07:16 AM
These ass-hats are from my home town and try as we might, we can't get rid of them because the law is on their side. However, you can expect one of the largest protests at ol' Fred's funeral.

While they are protected, I do think they should be held accountable for the untrue things they say. Slander and libel should still apply to their hate speech.

Exactly.

Though I get the free speech thing and all, I don't consider this sort of thing 'free speech' - I consider it harrassment, plain and simple. They're not protesting in front of the White House, but at private funerals which often have nothing to do with what they're screaming about. I don't respect this decision at all, and to me it just proves that law does not equal common sense.


das

MIKE D
03-03-2011, 07:16 AM
They upheld the constitution. Doesn't that dingbat consider herself a constituionalist?

michealdark
03-03-2011, 07:19 AM
She does. But she's also a flag waving jingoist. I don't even think it's the homophobia or anything like that that bothers her, it's that they attack military families.

MIKE D
03-03-2011, 07:46 AM
She does. But she's also a flag waving jingoist. I don't even think it's the homophobia or anything like that that bothers her, it's that they attack military families.

That bothers everyone, even those who think the SC made the right call.

Doug
03-03-2011, 07:49 AM
They upheld the constitution. Doesn't that dingbat consider herself a constituionalist?

I applaud you for the use of "dingbat."

BriRedfern
03-03-2011, 07:55 AM
I don't respect this decision at all, and to me it just proves that law does not equal common sense.


das
It definitely doesn't, nor should it try to in most instances.

michealdark
03-03-2011, 07:56 AM
That bothers everyone, even those who think the SC made the right call.

I know it bothers me to no end, but it's also the other stuff about it that gets to me too.

The Dean
03-03-2011, 07:57 AM
I wish, in conciliation, the Supreme Court decided to issue a surprising side ruling and declare that marriage is an equal right for all people.

michealdark
03-03-2011, 07:58 AM
That would have been fun!

Foolish Mortal
03-03-2011, 08:00 AM
Well they did also rule yesterday that corporations don't have privacy rights, but everyone seems to have ignored that.

That was a pretty significant ruling and good news.

Brother Power the Gong
03-03-2011, 08:20 AM
Well they did also rule yesterday that corporations don't have privacy rights, but everyone seems to have ignored that.

That was a pretty significant ruling and good news.

Yeah, that was a very pleasant surprise.

modungo
03-03-2011, 08:36 AM
I applaud you for the use of "dingbat."

Seconded.