Saturday, October 2, 2010
October 1, 2010
This is a vile story.
The Washington Post reported yesterday about Shirley Phelps-Roper and her family who show up at the military funerals of U.S. soldiers to praise God for killing them. "Thank God for dead soldiers" is one common sign. The group's message is that America's tolerance of homosexuality has angered God.
This is offensive, of course. The question is, is it protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,
which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press...." Does that language protect even speech as offensive as this?
A man named Albert Snyder, whose
son's funeral was disrupted by these protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church, sued. A Baltimore jury ruled that Westboro had to pay Snyder 10 million dollars. The judge cut the amount in half. But then a three judge panel for the 4th Circuit U. S. Court of Appeals unanimously overturned the judgment, calling the Phelps protest "distasteful and repugnant" butprotected by the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court will now have to decide. As an absolutist about the Constitution, I'm with the Court. What do you think?