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Supreme Court allows military funeral anti-gay protests.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that a church has the legal right to stage anti-gay protests at military funerals to promote its claim that God is angry at America for its tolerance of homosexuality.
In a case pitting free-speech versus privacy rights, the nation's high court held that the protest messages and picketing at a private funeral were protected by the Constitution's First Amendment.
The court's 8-1 ruling was a defeat for Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006.
He had appealed to the Supreme Court after the family's funeral service at a Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Maryland, drew unwanted protests by members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas.
The protesters carried signs that stated, "God Hates You," "You Are Going To Hell," and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
Westboro Pastor Fred Phelps and other church members have protested at hundreds of funerals of military members killed in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of their religious view that God is punishing America for its tolerance of gays and lesbians.
They cited the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve as long as they do not make their sexuality known. Snyder's 20-year-old son, Matthew, was not gay.
Phelps founded the church in 1955 and it has about 70 members made up mostly of his relatives. Phelps and his followers have protested at more than 200 military funerals.
In the court's opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the ruling was narrow and said free-speech rights dictated the outcome.
"Westboro's funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible," he wrote.
"But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property in a peaceful manner in full compliance with the guidance of local officials," Roberts said.
Even though church members may inflict pain at their protests, their speakers may not be punished, he 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," Roberts concluded."
Snyder sued in 2007. He said he had the right to bury his son in a private, dignified manner, free from unwanted disruption or harassment.
A federal judge awarded Snyder $5 million in damages for invasion of privacy and inflicting emotional distress, but a U.S. appeals court overturned the award on free-speech grounds.
The Supreme Court upheld that decision.
Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented from the ruling.
"Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," he wrote.
The Supreme Court case is Snyder v. Phelps, No. 09-751.

Registered Member
5,420 Posts
Thats just not right. We need the Bikers to continue blocking those ********.

PRC & SSW Administrator
4,302 Posts
I worked undercover at one of these funerals and it is far worse than what you see on TV. They chanted "We are glad he's dead, we are glad he's dead" when the soldier's parents turned into the drive. Both parents were crying when they passed by the protestors. I had to watch for signs of violence directed at the arses.
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