Supreme Court Sides with Fred Phelps: Full Ruling Text
US Supreme Court Sides with Westboro Baptist Church
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church, a hate group run by Fred Phelps, is protected by the First Amendment when it pickets the funerals of soldiers killed overseas. The case before the Supreme Court dealt with a Westboro protest at the funeral of Albert Snyder's son Matthew, a US Marine.
The ruling seems to take Westboro at its word that it's a church, as opposed to a hate group. In the US, hate speech is allowed by the First Amendment, unless it is inciting imminent violence. Read the full Supreme Court Ruling below, or via the US Supreme Court: Snyder vs Phelps (pdf).
- Albert Snyder Refuses to Pay Westboro Baptist Church
- Supreme Court to Hear Fred Phelps 1st Amendment Case
Justice Samuel Alito was the only member of the Supreme Court who sided with Snyder. What would you have done? Your opinion on this ruling will most likely depend on how you perceive Westboro Baptist Church. Not in terms of whether or not you agree, but whether or not you believe that the "church" is what it says it is.
In other words, should incitement of legal action, with the intention to pursue a counter-suit, be protected by the First Amendment?
From Justice Alito's dissenting opinion:
In light of this evidence, it is abundantly clear thatrespondents, going far beyond commentary on matters of public concern, specifically attacked Matthew Snyderbecause (1) he was a Catholic and (2) he was a member of the United States military. Both Matthew and petitioner were private figures,16 and this attack was not speech on a matter of public concern. While commentary on the Cath-olic Church or the United States military constitutes speech on matters of public concern, speech regarding Matthew Snyder’s purely private conduct does not.