US Supreme Court rules Westboro Baptist Church over military funeral protest case

By on Mar 3, 2011 in Current Events, United States Comments

The US Supreme Court was reported to have ruled out the appeal of Westboro Baptist Church over a case against a military funeral in 2006.

According to US news sites on Wednesday, an 8-1 ruling was made by the US Supreme Court, approving the decision of the lower court won by Westboro Baptist Church in 2009.

Back in 2006, the church members led by Pastor Fred Phelps protested outside the funeral for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Maryland.

It was the same Kansas church that announced a protest early this year on the funeral of the Arizona killing victims, as well as planning to make a protest during the funeral of Elizabeth Edwards in December of last year, through its website

“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.” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

But citing the First Amendment of the US Constitution, the US Supreme Court Chief Justice added that, “we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker”.

Apparently, three factors have been mentioned supporting the affirmation of the appeal of Westboro Baptist Church.

First, the church’s speech was on matters of public issue, referring to the issue of homosexuality in the military and scandals involving the Catholic Church.

Second, the ‘relationship’ between the Snyder family and the Westboro Baptist Church is not a private matter.

The third factor, according to the Chief Justice, concerns the legality of the protest activity of the church, wherein the members were 1,000 feet away from the funeral and that it was done quietly and without violence.

In 2007, the Synder family sued the church for invasion of privacy and won the case, but the latter won after it made an appeal a year later.

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