Washington CNN - A Kansas church that attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U. The justices, by an vote, said Wednesday that members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars. The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress. The right to free speech is easy to uphold until you encounter speech like this. Nonpopular, even disagreable speech needs the most protection and the court acted correctly siding with the church. The right to speak freely doesn't exist if it only applies to speech the majority agrees with.
High Court Rules For Anti-Gay Protesters At Funerals
Snyder v. Phelps - Wikipedia
Fred Waldron Phelps Sr. The Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kansas -based independent fundamentalist ministry that Phelps founded in , has been called "arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America". In addition to funerals, Phelps and his followers—mostly his own immediate family members—picketed gay pride gatherings, high-profile political events, university commencement ceremonies, live performances of The Laramie Project , and functions sponsored by mainstream Christian groups with which he had no affiliation, arguing it was their sacred duty to warn others of God's anger. He continued doing so in the face of numerous legal challenges—some of which reached the U. Supreme Court —and near-universal opposition and contempt from other religious groups and the general public. Gay rights supporters denounced him as a producer of anti-gay propaganda and violence-inspiring hate speech , and even Christians from fundamentalist denominations distanced themselves from him.
Five incendiary Westboro Baptist Church funeral protests
Cory Palmer , a local resident who died earlier this month from injuries suffered in Iraq. The protests by the Kansas church group led by the Rev. Fred Phelps prompted the U. House of Representatives earlier this month to pass a measure to restrict demonstrations at military funerals at federal burial grounds. The measure urged states to pass similar legislation to cover nonfederal cemeteries, and more than a dozen states are considering laws aimed at funeral protesters.
Albert Snyder sued the anti-gay church for unspecified damages after its members protested at his son's funeral in March Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Synder had been killed in Iraq and his father claimed the demonstration intruded upon what should have been a private ceremony and sullied his memory of the event.