Marine Dad Must Pay Court Costs for Protestors at Son's Funeral
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered Albert Snyder, father of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder to pay Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas $16,510 to cover the church's court costs associated with the lawsuit brought by Mr. Snyder against the church.
The church organized an anti gay protest at the funeral of Lance Corporal Snyder in 2006, who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters from Kansas was ordered to pay the protesters’ appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday.
On Friday, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006.
The two-page decision supplied by attorneys for Albert Snyder of York, Pa., offered no details on how the court came to its decision.
Albert Snyder won a lawsuit, contending the protests were an invasion of privacy that caused the family emotional distress in 2007. The ruling was later reversed.
But last fall an appeals court reversed the $5 million verdict, ruling the church’s protests were protected by the First Amendment. The Supreme Court will hear Snyder’s appeal this fall.
“It’s freedom of speech to some,” said Snyder, whose son Matthew was killed in Iraq. “To me it’s not what my son fought for. They’re kicking people in the face when they’re already down on the ground. All I was trying to do was bury my son.”
Westboro, an unaffiliated church with fewer than 100 members, went from local curiosity to national notoriety after it began protesting military funerals. Church members believe the deaths of military personnel — as well as tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina and the 2006 Amish school shooting — are God’s punishment for the tolerance of homosexuality.
It’s a theology summed up on their hand-painted protest signs: Thank God for 9/11; America is Doomed; and Thank God for Dead Troops.