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Supreme Court rules for anti-gay church over military funeral protests.
CNN ^ | 03/02/2011 | Bill Mears

Posted on 03/02/2011 10:11:47 AM PST by SeekAndFind

A Kansas church known for its angry, anti-gay protests at funerals of U.S. troops won an appeal Wednesday at the Supreme Court in a case testing the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

In an 8-1 ruling, the justices said 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.

"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. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

At issue was a delicate test between the privacy rights of grieving families and the free speech rights of demonstrators, however disturbing and provocative their message. Several states have attempted to impose specific limits on when and where the church members can protest.

The church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events including soldiers' deaths. Members have traveled the country shouting at grieving families at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for dead soldiers," "God blew up the troops" and "AIDS cures fags."

(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: firstamendment; fredphelps; ruling; scotus; surpemecourt; westborobaptist
Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

Here's his reasoning :

"The church's outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury, and the court now compounds that injury by depriving petitioner of a judgment that acknowledges the wrong he suffered. In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated, it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims like petitioner."

1 posted on 03/02/2011 10:11:50 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

Well, they ruled on Free Speech . . . much as we hate to see these clods get their way.


2 posted on 03/02/2011 10:13:43 AM PST by laweeks
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To: SeekAndFind

Can’t use that language on TV, can’t use the language in any classroom in America, but no problem at all to use that evil language against our military heroes.

Just damn damn damn.


3 posted on 03/02/2011 10:15:17 AM PST by Carley (WISCONSIN STREET NO DIFFERENT THAN THE ARAB STREET. UGLY AND VIOLENT)
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To: SeekAndFind
"The church's outrageous conduct caused petitioner great injury..."

Sorry Justice Alito but that's the same rationale used by Courts in England to fine and imprison people for criticizing homosexuality. No thanks.

4 posted on 03/02/2011 10:15:56 AM PST by circlecity
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To: SeekAndFind

The “church” in exercising their first amendment rights infringed on the father’s ability to exercise his right to practice his religion. The father has the right to bury his son with dignity in keeping with his religious practices.


5 posted on 03/02/2011 10:17:22 AM PST by USNBandit (sarcasm engaged at all times)
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To: SeekAndFind
WBC is not a church. They are an assemblage of dumboRAT civil rights lawyers who supported Al Gore and other leftist causes.

And Fred Phelps has been honored multiple times by the racist outfit known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored (ONLY) People and other commie organizations.

6 posted on 03/02/2011 10:17:27 AM PST by re_nortex (DP...that's what I like about Texas.)
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To: SeekAndFind

I believe the Supreme Court got this right. This same decision “should” continue to protect the rights of street corner preachers, as well as door-to-door witnessing for the Lord.

They should have sued Westboro for some specific infraction of law (if there was any) rather than from infringing their right to speak.

On the other hand, we may see folks unfortunately taking the law into their own hands and these “protestors” becoming targets for sniping. I think that municipalities can still limit their proximity to the funerals (such as 500 feet) - but how empty must a man’s soul be to revel in another’s grief.

The “pastor” of Westboro is actually a Democratic lawyer that thrives on lawsuits. The church has no membership apart from the seven or so members of the Phelps family and has no public services. The patriarch supported Al Gore during his presidential run. What more can be said.

Though the libera media will never admit it . . . these people are hate personified. If you ever see one of them interviewed, you can see the hate in their eyes and such hatred makes the possessor very ugly.


7 posted on 03/02/2011 10:19:11 AM PST by Pilgrim's Progress (http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/BYTOPICS/tabid/335/Default.aspx)
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To: circlecity

I was quite surprised at Justice Alito’s “Great Injury” argument. I would have expected that from the liberal side of the Court, but from Alito?

We all dislike Fred Phelps and his group, but if Alito’s argument were to win the day, anyone who claims “great injury” will limit everyone else’s right to speak.


8 posted on 03/02/2011 10:20:39 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: Pilgrim's Progress

RE: The patriarch supported Al Gore during his presidential run. What more can be said.


What is Al Gore’s public stance on Gays in the Military, DADT, Gay Marriage and a whole host of gay related issues ?


9 posted on 03/02/2011 10:23:00 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

The Supreme Court ruled correctly in this case, but what we need to do now is track these so called church clowns. When one of their members or a relative die, we go to their funeral and have a tailgate party. Complete with beer, BBQ, noise makers, hell throw in a couple of strippers while we are at it. Turnabout is fair play. Show these morons the same direspect they have shown our brave warriors.


10 posted on 03/02/2011 10:32:01 AM PST by sean327 (God created all men equal, then some become Marines!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Aren’t these protesters required by most city ordinances to obtain a permit first? If so, the locals can surely deny a protest in the same vacinity as a funeral procession due to traffic concerns. The protesters could then stage their protest after the funeral was over. Right?


11 posted on 03/02/2011 10:59:02 AM PST by vigilence
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To: SeekAndFind
Justice Roberts, writing for the majority, bothered to note that the Court's decision was limited to the facts before it and commented in a footnote that various facts considered by the trial court had not been presented to the Supreme Court for review in the petition for certiorari. Justice Breyer, in a concurrence, emphasized this. Justice Alito, in his dissent, seems to have relied on some of those facts.

As I noted here, these things very likely mean that the effect of the decision as precedent will be very limited.
12 posted on 03/02/2011 11:04:57 AM PST by DanMiller (Dan Miller)
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To: All
Please people. The Appellates ruled and the Supremes backed them up that there's no such thing as an honorable funeral for an honorable death defending our rights and the US Constitution.

There IS the right however to practice any kind of perversion you'd like in the military and to be brainwashed into accepting that if you're a military person who disagrees with that law.

Why in the world would anyone enlist in the US military???

That'd take a real moron nowadays.

But please. No more whining on FR anymore about these Phelps citizens and taxpayers. Nothing they do can any longer be considered outrageous since they're just practicing their constitutionally protected right of free speech so Freepers shouldn't have anything to say about it.

*puke*

13 posted on 03/02/2011 11:12:55 AM PST by HeartlandOfAmerica (Insane, Corrupt Democrats or Stupid, Spinless Republicans - Pick America's poison.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Gore believes whatever his campaign contributors tell him to believe.

My conjecture is that Phelps’ public face is a lot different from his private views. Personally, it would not surprise me to learn that he is also a sexual deviant.


14 posted on 03/02/2011 11:16:26 AM PST by Pilgrim's Progress (http://www.baptistbiblebelievers.com/BYTOPICS/tabid/335/Default.aspx)
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To: SeekAndFind
As much as I despise the Westboro crowd, the court made the right decision. If the ruling had gone the other direction, it would have opened the door for "speech codes" like they have in Canada and Europe, where you can be fined because some minority group claims that a comment you made offended them. These "speech codes" routinely are used to go after Christian preachers who speak against homosexuality, and conservatives who speak against radical Islam.

BTW. I wonder what O'Reilly is going to say about this tonight? If I remember correctly he was saying that there was "no way" the Supreme Court would dare side with Westboro and shouted down anybody who tried to make the slippery slope argument as I did.

15 posted on 03/02/2011 11:20:02 AM PST by apillar
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To: SeekAndFind

Alito’s statement isn’t reasoning; it is emotionalism. The principle in the Constitution is clear. It is interesting that Thomas voted with the majority because he was responsible early in his SCOTUS career for an atrocious anti-First Amendment decision involving a cross burning on private property.


16 posted on 03/02/2011 11:27:21 AM PST by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: SeekAndFind
There is only one solution to funeral protesters. Make the cemetery temporarily private property for the funeral by creating a permit system for those that want privacy.

Yes, it is more red tape for an already difficult event but the only way to keep creeps of all kinds from crashing a funeral. They would be trespassing and limited to access to public right of way only.

Eventually cemeteries would have to erect privacy walls from those public areas.

17 posted on 03/02/2011 11:39:41 AM PST by gandalftb (Fighting jihadists is like fighting an earthquake, harden yourselves.)
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To: circlecity
Sorry Justice Alito but that's the same rationale used by Courts in England to fine and imprison people for criticizing homosexuality. No thanks.

Twaddle!

No one says that people don't have a right to criticize the military. But they do not have a right to do so at a private venue.

I wonder if you think these schmucks could also make what ever noise is necessary to disturb the regular Saturday morning services at my synagogue.

The Court's decision is an outrage; but we've become inured to that.

ML/NJ

18 posted on 03/02/2011 11:52:08 AM PST by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj
"But they do not have a right to do so at a private venue.

Uhh, their protests genreally take place on public streets and sidewalks outside the graveyards and funeral parlors. If you can ban them on this pretext you can ban the Tea Party if anyone says it causes them emotional distress. Scalia, Thomas and Roberts were definitely on the right side of this one.

19 posted on 03/02/2011 11:56:00 AM PST by circlecity
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To: circlecity
Uhh, their protests genreally take place on public streets and sidewalks

I guess you think my synagogue is in the middle of some big private estate. But it's not. There's a public sidewalk probably no more than 20 feet from where our rabbi usually sits, and a public street another five feet away.

Anyone making disturbing sounds that we could hear inside the synagogue would properly be arrested for disturbing the peace. Remember "Disturbing the Peace"?

Shouting other people down is not freedom of speech. I'm astonished that any FReeper might think that it is.

ML/NJ

20 posted on 03/02/2011 12:08:27 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: ml/nj
"Anyone making disturbing sounds that we could hear inside the synagogue would properly be arrested for disturbing the peace"

No they wouldn't. The pro-homo crowd does protests like this outside the front door of churches every single weekend somewhere and I've never heard of any of them getting arrest for disturbing the peace. You don't have a clue what you are talking about.

21 posted on 03/02/2011 12:12:03 PM PST by circlecity
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To: circlecity
If you can ban them on this pretext you can ban the Tea Party if anyone says it causes them emotional distress.

I don't know what sort of Tea Party activity you have been a part of. All of the events I have been a part of (about ten by now) have been held in public parks where the organizers have obtained permits for the gathering, or on private property with the blessing of the owner(s) of the property. SFAIAA, no neighbor could hear anything at any of the events I've been to that have been held on private property.

ML/NJ

22 posted on 03/02/2011 12:13:51 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: circlecity
The pro-homo crowd does protests like this outside the front door of churches every single weekend somewhere and I've never heard of any of them getting arrest for disturbing the peace.

And you support this? You support decisions which render violations of disturbing the peace null and void. Everyone who disturbs the peace could claim that he is exercising a free speech right.

As Rush has said, everyone has a right to free speech; but they do not have a right to be heard.

For 200 years or so this is the way it was in our little totalitarian republic, but now with publicly educated fools who think that queers have GREATER rights than worshipers, it is no more.

ML/NJ

23 posted on 03/02/2011 12:20:27 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: Carley
Let them have their free speech. Not to forget there is a price to pay for it though. If their free speech incites someone to beat the crap out of them, that would be inciting a riot, which is illegal and punishable, beyond the broken limbs the perps might have suffered.

I would put that in the same category as yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater when there is no fire.

Free speech is sometimes punishable by both man and the courts -- and God. So they may have their free speech at their own peril.

I would not be adverse to be walking by the inciters while I was carrying some mace, a zapper, a baseball bat, a knive, a pistol, and a shotgun and let them test how mad it might make me while they were doing their inciting.

24 posted on 03/02/2011 12:22:01 PM PST by Eastbound (3-7-77)
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To: ml/nj
"And you support this?"

I certainly support their right to do so. The same right which allows Christians to proselytize. (A right Christians don't have in some countries that call themselves Western democracies).

25 posted on 03/02/2011 12:25:28 PM PST by circlecity
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To: circlecity
The same right which allows Christians to proselytize.

Ya see, Pal, you may have a right to tell me how wonderful Jesus is, but if you don't think I have a right to tell you to leave me alone, then you and I have a different view of America. It's one that could get you killed if run into the wrong person.

ML/NJ

26 posted on 03/02/2011 12:36:16 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: SeekAndFind
Full text of Justic Alito's very well reasoned dissent.
27 posted on 03/02/2011 12:36:38 PM PST by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: ml/nj

Then we have different views. And my view won 8-1 which means it will be the law of the land for decades to come.


28 posted on 03/02/2011 12:38:06 PM PST by circlecity
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To: circlecity
And my view won 8-1 which means it will be the law of the land for decades to come.

Just like Roe and Kelo. Liberals LOVE the Court, but really have no place here at FreeRepublic.

ML/NJ

29 posted on 03/02/2011 12:47:48 PM PST by ml/nj
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To: SeekAndFind

This is not the first bad decision the SCOTUS has made; nor will it be the last. But, as bad rulings, this is in the top ten. Now let them enforce the ruling.


30 posted on 03/02/2011 1:49:21 PM PST by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1: Take no prisoners)
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To: circlecity; All

So what do you think of my reply 24 for a remedy?


31 posted on 03/02/2011 6:34:31 PM PST by Eastbound (3-7-77)
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To: Eastbound

Well, I think the proper remedy is the one Roberts suggested in the majority opinion. Create buffer zones around funerals which are protest free. Roberts said that would be acceptable.


32 posted on 03/03/2011 3:36:32 AM PST by circlecity
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To: circlecity

I would agree, though I would want the buffer zone to begin at a point where the protesters cannot be seen or heard by funeral attendees for at least one full block from the burial site or cemetery, whichever is the furtherest, otherwise, bam, slice, chop, whip, mangle, maim, kick butt or do whatever moves you if you just happen to pass by the inciters.


33 posted on 03/03/2011 5:44:08 PM PST by Eastbound (3-7-77)
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