Skip to comments.Dissenting Justice: Westboro Ruling Goes Too Far
Posted on 03/02/2011 3:31:45 PM PST by Eleutheria5
Where should the nation draw the line on free speech?
For Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the defense of First Amendment rights expressed by today's majority ruling in the Westboro Baptist Church case goes too far.
The 8-1 decision found that the fringe church's hate-filled picketing at the funeral of a Marine corporal killed in Iraq qualified as public discourse protected by the First Amendment. Church members claim soldiers' deaths are God's punishment for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality.
Dissenting Justice Slams 'Brutalization of Innocent Victims' Kris Connor, Getty Images Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito Jr. was the lone dissenter in Snyder v. Phelps. However hurtful and abhorrent, the church members' railings...yadda yadda...
But in staking out his lone dissent, Alito suggested that when publicly offensive speech is also -- and perhaps primarily -- personally painful, the Constitution doesn't protect it.
"Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case," Alito wrote.
"Mr. Snyder wanted what is surely the right of any parent who experiences such an incalculable loss: to bury his son in peace," he added. "But respondents, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, deprived him of that elementary right."
(Excerpt) Read more at aolnews.com ...
Free speech zones?
Free speech should be available everywhere and at any time.
Ir is propriety that should make people respect funerals and allow the honored dead to be buried in peace.
“Free speech should be available everywhere and at any time.”
There is also responsible free speech. What happened to the concept of “can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater”?
Public office holders get them. Protests are held in one area, press conferences in another. Since “free speech zones” are not afforded funerals, and propriety and decency does not seem to stop Westboro Baptist, I see no reason why it should stop the attendants at the funerals that they are picketing, either. Kick ‘em in the ass. Chase them away. Done and done.
there is free speech, and then there is intent to disrupt the religious services and practices of others, just as the gays increasingly are doing with the Catholic churches
I would consider disrupting and profaning a funeral to be interfering with freedom of religious practice
Guess I woulda lost, but I would sure like to buy Alito a beer
I think that the proper response would be for state legislatures to immediately pass exemptions to their assault and battery statutes to exclude people who are maintaining tohe decorum of a funeral ceremony.
oops...hit post before I finished.
I agree with the propriety statement. Just try your “free speech” disagreeing with Obama during one of his public appearances.
An organized group needs to get together and “protest” all Westboro members homes, funerals, etc in like manner.
I respect Samuel Alito and sympathize with those who have lost love ones, but the First Amendment applies to all Americans, including those who are the scum of the earth. Fred Phelps & Company have every right to make public fools of themselves.
Doing such a thing would threaten the health of the people in the theater. Hurling insults doesn't peril anyone else's health, you know, "sticks and stones" and all that.
Does this ruling also protect someone who takes one of Phelp’s signs and rams it up his a$$?
SCOTUS is allowing the free inciteful speech of one group to trump the peaceable assembly of another group of funeral goers.
1. That group, WBC is not a church, they are agitators.
Not one example of conduct like this can be found in
the New Testament Scriptures.
2. If they were Christians they would helping somebody,
praying for somebody, feeding some orphan as directed
by the Word, not making and carrying signs so repugnant
that their messages couldn’t be posted here.
3. If they have a problem with homo’s why don’t they
go confront the homo’s in San Francisco? No, they
go to funerals of our fallen heroes carrying signs
saying that God killed them because of homosexuality
in our country.
4. These WBC are brute beasts, clouds without water,
carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth,
without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;
wandering planets to whom is reserved the blackness
of darkness for ever. Jude 10~13.
Words that can’t be said on TV, that are disallowed in any classroom in the United States is perfectly alright to be said against our military heroes.
The Supreme Court's decision pointed out that the protestors did not disrupt the funeral; they were on a public street, not inside the chapel, and the plaintiff father didn't even know about the protest until he saw it on the news that night.
Loudly protest them at their place and on a daily basis and see how they like it.
“Free speech should be available everywhere and at any time.”
Anyone can exercise “free speech” from your front yard? From your porch? From inside your dwelling? Anytime they want to?
You can’t have peaceful pro-life activity in front of abortion clinics, in certain areas, as far as I know. A pastor in Oakland went to jail for peacefully picketing.
Since it is Free Speech I can go stand outside of the fence of the WH and use a bullhorn and say OBAMA NEEEDS TO RESIGN and The FBI, Secret Service and CIA can do nothing. because the supreme Court has just defended my right to Free Speech.
So if anybody decides to shout at the president at a campaign, they do not have to leave when asked.
This is going to cause a problem in Madison Wisconsin - the protestor will not ever have to leave, and they can camp out on the floor of the Capitol rotunda. Not good. But what about States Rights and the the Ordinances of a Local Government what takes precedence.
So whenever a military funeral occurs there needs to be a contigent of people whom stand between the family and the Westboro nutcases. They are exercising their free speech to defend the family’s wishes.
i agree with samuel Alioto there has to be some bounds to free speech in light of a funeral, protests in a state Capitol and anywhere decorum should be in check. Except for really pissing off the so called president Obama.
Alito, alone, got it right. Free speech IS available to the reprehensible folks at Westboro. They can publish all they want on the internet. There is no censorship of their ridiculous message. They have many open venues to spew their hate. There are times when the right of a grieving family to bury their dead trumps the rights of the Westboro folks. If the eight idiots looked at the clear intent of the framers - to permit open criticism of the government - they would not have made this grievous mistake. Wish I remembered who said, “sometimes the law is an ass.”
Free speech has consequences. This group needs some consequences delivered post haste.
Thus the ruling is correct.
Free speech is obnoxious and hard to deal with sometimes. There are other ways to deal with the Westboro Nutjob Church. Flat tires in the parking lot comes to mind.
Now you are talking. We need to learn to use the Constitution in our favor rather than leaving it in the hands of the court.
If the Westboro scum can do it, so can we. Though it does require activity.
Those bikers a while back showed people how it is done.
No, because that would be assault.
If the Westboro bunch went inside the funeral home they would not be protected.
For Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, the defense of First Amendment rights expressed by today's majority ruling in the Westboro Baptist Church case goes too far. The 8-1 decision found that the fringe church's hate-filled picketing at the funeral of a Marine corporal killed in Iraq qualified as public discourse protected by the First Amendment.The families of the soldiers are far more restrained than I would be.
Why is this even an issue. They were 1000 feet away from the funeral.
Louisiana had it right several years ago when they reduced the penalty for beating a flag burner to a small fine. Something like $15. Why should police and court resources be wasted protecting idiots? Make the fine $100 and cap civil damages at $1 and the problem will go away,
“Incitement to riot” is not applicable here, I take it? How about “disturbing the peace?” Isn’t that an offense anymore?
>>mourners’ right to peaceably assemble<<
You have a citation for this? There’s no such right, especially on public property.
The word “peace” no longer exists, having been used too often in oxymoronic contexts. As a result, it imploded and has been replaced with “piece”. There is the Nobel Piece Prize, usually offered to either the biggest liars, the most frivolous lightweights, or the biggest murderers to make the news that year (preferably all three), there is the piece process in Israel, which keeps claiming new victims every time it’s revived. So there is no peace to disturb, and the best thing anyone can do to the piece is give it a mercy shot to the head, only it won’t come anywhere near any place where citizens have ready access to guns. Piece resides in the inner city blight of Detroit,MI and Washington, DC. Piece thrives in South Central LA. Nobody ever disturbs it, least of all Westboro Baptist Church, who will merely tell its victims that it serves them right for being Americans.
Peaceably means the people assembling must be doing it in peace. Not to, for example, shoot guns off in the air. It says nothing about reaction to such assembly nor does it guarantee anything regarding the assembly; just that Congress can’t prevent it.
However, the SCOTUS decision is pitting the mourner's desire to peaceably assemble with the WBC group's intent to disrupt.
By your standard, what would you have the mourners do, yell, shout, and run off the disruptive WBC members? Would that violate your definition of peaceable assembly, just short of shooting off guns in the air?
The original point of the reference was that the SCOTUS should have tilted towards the First Amendment right of people to peaceably assemble, rather than towards the First Amendment right of a group to use inciteful speech, especially when the inciteful speech is intended to disrupt peaceable assembly.
And don't even get me started on the First Amendment right of the free press to take the side of the disrupters who claim a First Amendment right to practice their religion! ;-)
Rights are not absolute. Its a balancing affect. The right to free speech probably outweighs most or all other rights, but I don’t, for example, have free speech rights in your house. So do property rights trump free speech rights? NO, not according to other SC decisions concerning issues at the mall, for example. Its a case by case basis.
We can play this game a number of different ways. What the court did in this case was say that they can’t regulate the content of the speech, and the protesters being there and doing their thing isn’t unlawful. That would leave a nasty precedent when you want to go protest at the opening of an abortion clinic or gay biker bar setting up shop in your neighborhood. Those lunatics would argue your speech is just as bad as what the protesters’ was here.
The SC can’t take sides on content.
>Free speech should be available everywhere and at any time.
>There is also responsible free speech. What happened to the concept of cant yell fire in a movie theater?
That was *ALWAYS* a lame duck.
Especially considering there is one time where one *CAN* (and arguably must) yell fire in a crowded theater: when the theater is on fire.
The correct ruling in such a case as is usually meant (the lie of yelling ‘fire’ in the crowded theater), IMO, would be to make the shouter personally liable for any injury [or death] incurred by his inciting of panic.
>Free speech should be available everywhere and at any time.
>Anyone can exercise free speech from your front yard? From your porch? From inside your dwelling? Anytime they want to?
Yes; but contrawise you have the right to defend your property from trespassers with [even lethal] force.
If free speech is available everywhere and at any time, including anytime anyone wants to from another’s front yard, another’s porch, or inside another’s dwelling, that availability indicates no trespass has occurred.