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Dissenting Justice: Westboro Ruling Goes Too Far
AOL News ^ | 2/3/11 | Joseph Schuman

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 ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1stamendment; alito; marinefunerals; scotus; westboro
That's ok, though. If their assault on his son's funeral is constitutionally protected, a future dad in that position (of facing Westboro pickets) can add to public discourse and make a 1st Amendment-protected statement with a well-placed upper cut, followed by a kick in the ass. It may be personally painful to the Westboro parishioner getting in his face, but the First Amendment protects offensive gestures and movements, too. Any legitimate attendant at the funeral wishing to make a similar public statement with the Westboro picketer nearest to them can feel free to do so, or help the father make his public statement more emphatic.
1 posted on 03/02/2011 3:31:49 PM PST by Eleutheria5
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To: Eleutheria5

Free speech zones?

Ridiculous.

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.


2 posted on 03/02/2011 3:37:05 PM PST by Ev Reeman
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To: Ev Reeman

“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”?


3 posted on 03/02/2011 3:41:12 PM PST by texteacher
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To: Ev Reeman

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.


4 posted on 03/02/2011 3:41:31 PM PST by Eleutheria5 (End the occupation. Annex today.)
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To: Eleutheria5

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


5 posted on 03/02/2011 3:42:15 PM PST by silverleaf (All that is necessary for evil to succeed, is that good men do nothing)
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To: Eleutheria5

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.


6 posted on 03/02/2011 3:43:56 PM PST by RightFighter (Now back to my war station.)
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To: texteacher

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.


7 posted on 03/02/2011 3:45:28 PM PST by texteacher
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To: Eleutheria5

An organized group needs to get together and “protest” all Westboro members homes, funerals, etc in like manner.


8 posted on 03/02/2011 3:47:29 PM PST by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like what you say))
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To: Eleutheria5

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.


9 posted on 03/02/2011 3:47:46 PM PST by Clintonfatigued (Illegal aliens commit crimes that Americans won't commit)
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To: freeangel

Damn straight.


10 posted on 03/02/2011 3:48:13 PM PST by Eleutheria5 (End the occupation. Annex today.)
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To: texteacher
What happened to the concept of “can’t yell ‘fire’ in a movie theater”?

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.

11 posted on 03/02/2011 3:50:00 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: dfwgator

Does this ruling also protect someone who takes one of Phelp’s signs and rams it up his a$$?


12 posted on 03/02/2011 3:52:53 PM PST by GSWarrior (To activate this tagline, please contact the board administrator.)
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To: Eleutheria5
It's not about free speech, it's about the mourners' right to peaceably assemble.

SCOTUS is allowing the free inciteful speech of one group to trump the peaceable assembly of another group of funeral goers.

-PJ

13 posted on 03/02/2011 3:54:09 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (In a democracy, you negotiate from the floor of the legislature, not from hideouts and bullhorns.)
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To: Eleutheria5

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.


14 posted on 03/02/2011 3:55:49 PM PST by Doulos1 (Bitter Clinger Forever!)
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To: Eleutheria5

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.

For shame.


15 posted on 03/02/2011 3:59:52 PM PST by Carley (WISCONSIN STREET NO DIFFERENT THAN THE ARAB STREET. UGLY AND VIOLENT)
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To: silverleaf
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

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.

16 posted on 03/02/2011 4:07:12 PM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: Doulos1

Loudly protest them at their place and on a daily basis and see how they like it.


17 posted on 03/02/2011 4:08:51 PM PST by Ev Reeman
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To: Ev Reeman

“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?


18 posted on 03/02/2011 4:14:16 PM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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To: texteacher

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.


19 posted on 03/02/2011 4:35:02 PM PST by Persevero (Homeschooling for Excellence since 1992)
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To: Eleutheria5
When someone whines long enough eventually they will be heard. WBC’s whining has certainly been heard. When someone continues to whine after being heard, eventually someone will shoot them.
20 posted on 03/02/2011 5:03:54 PM PST by W. W. SMITH (Islam is an instrument of enslavement)
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To: Eleutheria5

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.


21 posted on 03/02/2011 5:11:19 PM PST by hondact200 (Candor dat viribos alas (sincerity gives wings to strength) and Nil desperandum (never despair))
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To: Ev Reeman

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.”


22 posted on 03/02/2011 5:27:13 PM PST by RochesterFan
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To: Eleutheria5

Free speech has consequences. This group needs some consequences delivered post haste.


23 posted on 03/02/2011 5:28:52 PM PST by abigailsmybaby ("To understan' the livin', you gotta commune wit' da dead." Minerva)
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To: Lurking Libertarian
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.

Thus the ruling is correct.

24 posted on 03/02/2011 5:29:04 PM PST by dfwgator
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To: texteacher

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.


25 posted on 03/02/2011 5:41:05 PM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: freeangel

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.


26 posted on 03/02/2011 5:46:24 PM PST by dforest
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To: GSWarrior

No, because that would be assault.


27 posted on 03/02/2011 5:47:57 PM PST by dforest
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To: Political Junkie Too

If the Westboro bunch went inside the funeral home they would not be protected.


28 posted on 03/02/2011 5:49:35 PM PST by dforest
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To: AdmSmith; AnonymousConservative; Berosus; bigheadfred; ColdOne; Convert from ECUSA; Delacon; ...

Thanks Eleutheria5.
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.


29 posted on 03/02/2011 5:53:55 PM PST by SunkenCiv (The 2nd Amendment follows right behind the 1st because some people are hard of hearing.)
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To: Eleutheria5

Why is this even an issue. They were 1000 feet away from the funeral.


30 posted on 03/02/2011 5:55:11 PM PST by Fpimentel
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To: Eleutheria5

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,


31 posted on 03/02/2011 6:47:32 PM PST by RKBA Democrat (Palin 2012: Renew, Revive, and Restore)
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To: Eleutheria5

“Incitement to riot” is not applicable here, I take it? How about “disturbing the peace?” Isn’t that an offense anymore?


32 posted on 03/03/2011 3:27:55 AM PST by 668 - Neighbor of the Beast (Use your own sark tag, I'm all out, thank you.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

>>mourners’ right to peaceably assemble<<

You have a citation for this? There’s no such right, especially on public property.


33 posted on 03/03/2011 2:08:11 PM PST by 1L
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To: 668 - Neighbor of the Beast

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.


34 posted on 03/03/2011 2:25:50 PM PST by Eleutheria5 (End the occupation. Annex today.)
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To: 1L
The United States Constitution. There is a 1st amendment right to peaceably assemble, for whatever reason.

-PJ

35 posted on 03/03/2011 4:30:14 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (In a democracy, you negotiate from the floor of the legislature, not from hideouts and bullhorns.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

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.


36 posted on 03/03/2011 8:34:57 PM PST by 1L
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To: 1L
What you say is true.

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! ;-)

-PJ

37 posted on 03/03/2011 9:02:06 PM PST by Political Junkie Too (In a democracy, you negotiate from the floor of the legislature, not from hideouts and bullhorns.)
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To: Political Junkie Too

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.


38 posted on 03/04/2011 2:06:21 PM PST by 1L
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To: texteacher

>“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”?

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.


39 posted on 03/06/2011 9:57:26 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: KrisKrinkle

>“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.


40 posted on 03/06/2011 10:01:26 AM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: OneWingedShark
“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.

41 posted on 03/06/2011 10:22:58 AM PST by KrisKrinkle (Blessed be those who know the depth and breadth of their ignorance. Cursed be those who don't.)
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