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Thread: Supreme Court Sides With Westboro Baptist Church on Marine Funeral Protest

  1. #1
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    Supreme Court Sides With Westboro Baptist Church on Marine Funeral Protest

    Westboro Funeral Pickets Are Protected Speech, High Court Rules

    By Lee Ross

    Published March 02, 2011

    The Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, ruled Wednesday that members of the renegade Westboro Baptist Church have a constitutionally protected right to protest military funerals, though their demonstrations are widely despised and deplored.

    The case presented the justices with a high-profile question about the breadth of First Amendment speech and assembly protections, with a majority of justices ruling that these fundamental rights outweigh the concerns of grieving family members who would rather not deal with the obnoxious protesters.

    For years, the protesters have popped up at tens of thousands of places across the country to voice their displeasure with government policies they think promote homosexuality. They did so in 2006 at the funeral for Matthew Snyder, a marine killed in Iraq. He was not gay.

    But the funeral provided the protesters an opportunity to speak out against government policies, though there's little -- if anything -- to connect Snyder to the Westboro cause.

    Albert Snyder certainly didn't want anything do with the picketers when he buried his son. "I want them to stop doing this to our military men and women," Snyder told Fox News in October before the arguments. "I want the judges to hear that this case is not about free speech, it's about targeted harassment."

    In the days leading up to the funeral, Westboro parishioners, including leader Fred Phelps, notified local authorities of their intention to picket the service. They were kept 1,000 feet away from the church and because of the use of an alternative entrance for church-goers there was no disruption to the memorial. Seven protestors held numerous signs including some that read, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," "God Hates Fags," and "You're Going to Hell." There were no arrests.

    Snyder filed a lawsuit against Phelps based on the protest and a subsequent post on the Westboro website about his son Matthew.

    A jury awarded Snyder nearly $11 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. That award was later cut in half and then the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals set aside the decision in its entirety, ruling that the protests were absolutely protected by the First Amendment.

    That decision was upheld by the Supreme Court.

    A group of 21 news organizations joined a brief defending Westboro's case. While calling their views "inexplicable and hateful," they expressed concern that a ruling against the church would chill the activities of anyone who wants to speak out on a controversial issue and "threatens to expand dramatically the risk of liability for news media coverage and commentary."

    One of the media groups that joined the brief is Dow Jones whose parent company also owns Fox News.
    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011...#ixzz1FSO8z96h

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    What Westboro Baptist does in distgusting, but I agree with the ruling. What a country.

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    And the Supreme Court gets it wrong yet again.

    The Freedom of Speech ends when it tramples on the freedoms of other private individuals. All freedom has this inherant limitation, that my rights do not allow me to infringe upon someone elses rights.

    If they were protesting a Govt. Building, I'd support their rights. They're not, they are specificly targeting and harassing individuals. It's wrong, and the court dropped the ball yet again. Sadly, not a surpise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    And the Supreme Court gets it wrong yet again.

    The Freedom of Speech ends when it tramples on the freedoms of other private individuals. All freedom has this inherant limitation, that my rights do not allow me to infringe upon someone elses rights.

    If they were protesting a Govt. Building, I'd support their rights. They're not, they are specificly targeting and harassing individuals. It's wrong, and the court dropped the ball yet again. Sadly, not a surpise.
    Once again you show, you do not undertand the laws of this great country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    Once again you show, you do not undertand the laws of this great country.
    Whats your home address?

    Then we can make sure that the whole world can enjoy their right (a right you support) by protesting outside your home for the next few weeks, months, hell, maybe years! After all, you represent the U.S. Govt. at least as much as a dead Marine does.

    You clearly have no objection, so pony up that address please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Whats your home address?

    Then we can make sure that the whole world can enjoy their right (a right you support) by protesting outside your home for the next few weeks, months, hell, maybe years! After all, you represent the U.S. Govt. at least as much as a dead Marine does.

    You clearly have no objection, so pony up that address please.
    I welcome this 'Fish. Here's my actual address.

    20 Columbia Place, Apt B60
    Brooklyn, NY 11201

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    And the Supreme Court gets it wrong yet again.

    The Freedom of Speech ends when it tramples on the freedoms of other private individuals. All freedom has this inherant limitation, that my rights do not allow me to infringe upon someone elses rights.

    If they were protesting a Govt. Building, I'd support their rights. They're not, they are specificly targeting and harassing individuals. It's wrong, and the court dropped the ball yet again. Sadly, not a surpise.
    +1

    No one is curtailing their freedom to speak out. They have a website, they have books, they have other media, they have their pulpit. What they're doing is trampling on the "freedom" of people who do not belong to their church to grieve the deaths of their loved ones.

    Is it considered free speech to streak across an NFL football field during a game? What about crank calling 911? What about if I went on the roof of a sports bar and stood in front of their DirecTV dish on a Sunday afternoon with an aluminum foil covered sign protesting the littering of earth low-orbit area with satellites?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Whats your home address?

    Then we can make sure that the whole world can enjoy their right (a right you support) by protesting outside your home for the next few weeks, months, hell, maybe years! After all, you represent the U.S. Govt. at least as much as a dead Marine does.

    You clearly have no objection, so pony up that address please.
    Oh boy, I guess I have to repeat myself for you to better understand. What the Westboro Baptist Church does is disgusting and horrible. Freedom of speech is not something that goes away when you do not agree with who or what they are saying.

    If someone came to my residence and verball harrassed me, that is something completely different, but I guess you can't understand that nor the actual laws of this country. Yet, you want to still claim to understand the Constitution?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    Oh boy, I guess I have to repeat myself for you to better understand. What the Westboro Baptist Church does is disgusting and horrible. Freedom of speech is not something that goes away when you do not agree with who or what they are saying.
    I'll use small words, so you understand.

    -It's not about agree or disagree.

    -It's about absuing the freedoms of others.

    If someone came to my residence and verball harrassed me, that is something completely different
    No it isn't. Which is the point here.

    If you support this ruling, you support the right of these folks to come to your home every day for the rest of time to protest YOU, to get their message out. There is no meaningful difference between their protesting a deceased marines funeral or protesting a Federal law officer.

    So make up your mind already. Do you support their freedom of speech or not, and if so, please email them your address so they can start their protest of you, a representative of the U.S. Govt.

    Plumber nailed this topic, far better than I did.
    Last edited by Warfish; 03-02-2011 at 12:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    And the Supreme Court gets it wrong yet again.

    The Freedom of Speech ends when it tramples on the freedoms of other private individuals. All freedom has this inherant limitation, that my rights do not allow me to infringe upon someone elses rights.

    If they were protesting a Govt. Building, I'd support their rights. They're not, they are specificly targeting and harassing individuals. It's wrong, and the court dropped the ball yet again. Sadly, not a surpise.
    Fish - exactly what rights, enumerated in the Constitution, are being infringed upon here?

    I disagree with the ruling on non-legal grounds, despise what these *******s do, but I can't see how the SC could decide otherwise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    If someone came to my residence and verball harrassed me, that is something completely different
    Why ??

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    Quote Originally Posted by quantum View Post
    Fish - exactly what rights, enumerated in the Constitution, are being infringed upon here?
    Not every right is pulled directly from the Constitution, many are granted by statute. And not all rights in the Constitution are limitless, almost all have limits of some form or another, again based on statute.

    In this case, it couldn't be a more clear-cut case of:

    Quote Originally Posted by wikipedia
    Harassment covers a wide range of offensive behaviour. It is commonly understood as behaviour intended to disturb or upset. In the legal sense, it is behaviour which is found threatening or disturbing.
    The protestors are not protesting the Government, they are harassing individuals families. In the same vein of "yelling fire in a crowded theatre"the protests are not a use of free speech, but an effort to cause harm in others.

    As Plumber clearly laid out, they are not facing a limit of speech, they have an endless variety of options available to speak, and to protest. But that can be done without causing harm to others, as they are clearly doing here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Not every right is pulled directly from the Constitution, many are granted by statute. And not all rights in the Constitution are limitless, almost all have limits of some form or another, again based on statute.

    In this case, it couldn't be a more clear-cut case of:



    The protestors are not protesting the Government, they are harassing individuals families. In the same vein of "yelling fire in a crowded theatre"the protests are not a use of free speech, but an effort to cause harm in others.

    As Plumber clearly laid out, they are not facing a limit of speech, they have an endless variety of options available to speak, and to protest. But that can be done without causing harm to others, as they are clearly doing here.
    I'm sympathetic, but how can you prove motive? They're protesting the govt, but you say harassing the families. Seems to me this is just one of those "hold your nose" issues like the Klan marching in parades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quantum View Post
    I'm sympathetic, but how can you prove motive?
    You don't have to. Harassment is activity that causes harm, intended or not.

    For example, I could grab my boss's boob ten times a day, with only the purest of intentions. Guess what, thats still harassment.

    They're protesting the govt, but you say harassing the families.
    They are, specificly, disturbing a funeral for a soldier who had no relevance or control to the policy they claim to be protesting.

    You tell me, did the dead soldier (not gay btw) control gay's-in-the-millitary, or would the actual Govt. in DC be a more meaningful place for such a protest?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Phoenixx View Post
    Why ??
    First Amendment
    Amendment I
    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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    First Amendment
    Amendment I
    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; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
    Where does that say they can't protest your home (from the Street of course)?

    I must have missed that part.

    You really are the worst troll around, not even following your own logic half the time. You support their freedom, as long as it doesn't effect you personally.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    Where does that say they can't protest your home (from the Street of course)?

    I must have missed that part.

    You really are the worst troll around, not even following your own logic half the time. You support their freedom, as long as it doesn't effect you personally.
    Are you serious? You do not understand what they hell you are talking about, I said there is a difference, I didn't say it doesn't effect me.

    What would they be protesting in front of my home? Let me know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cr726 View Post
    What would they be protesting in front of my home? Let me know.
    I'm not getting trolled by you any longer cr. Have a great day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Warfish View Post
    I'm not getting trolled by you any longer cr. Have a great day.
    LOL, you do not understand laws and I am troll because of it? LOL. I actually have to use federal laws to arrest people, yet you know more than I? Classic.

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    Fish, I disagree on your analogy. These protesters were on public property where they have every right to protest whatever they want. Protesters on your private property is another matter. They were just words and signs, no misconduct or violence or trespassing.

    That said, I agree the court screwed up here. But not in that the protests should not be allowed. I don't think that's the issue here. What they screwed up was not rewarding the $11 million (or half) settlement for emotional distress or whatever it was.

    These dopes every right to act like dooshes as they please, as long as they understand that if they are directed at someone, there may be consequences to their actions.

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