Supreme Court: Westboro Church can picket funerals

I can’t say I’m very surprised with this recent Supreme Court ruling:

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that a grieving father’s pain over mocking protests at his Marine son’s funeral must yield to First Amendment protections for free speech. All but one justice (Samuel Alito) sided with a fundamentalist church that has stirred outrage with raucous demonstrations contending God is punishing the military for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.

The 8-1 decision in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., was the latest in a line of court rulings that, as Chief Justice John Roberts said in his opinion for the court, protects “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

I find myself torn very slightly on this one. Deep down I knew the Westboro Church was going to win, but I hoped they would lose. I hoped it would be found that they were harassing families, not exercising their free speech rights. Because, come on. That really is what they were doing. But, still, I’ve been torn. As far as the law is concerned (something the church pretends to know something about), they weren’t targeting anyone. Even though everyone knows they were.

I appreciated when I read that Bill O’Reilly offered to pay the legal bills of the family. But that was when the costs were relatively low. Now the family may be in debt to the church for around $100,000. I wouldn’t expect O’Reilly to pay that amount, but I hope he does. And if not him, then someone. The Westboro Church is made up of pure scum, one step above the religious fanatics who physically harm others. Maybe they deserved this court victory, but they don’t deserve the sick satisfaction from further hurting the families who have lost loved ones.

6 Responses

  1. Read Alitos dissent. He makes some very good points. He agrees that the speech is protected, just not the administration of that speech. In this case these people quite clearly harassed and intended to cause and did cause harm, that not protected speech, that’s harassment.

  2. Isn’t there only like 70 of these loons?

  3. This is a bitter sweet ruling. Sweet in the sense that our right of freedom of speech was protected but bitter because these clowns won a victory.

  4. They could have ruled that the speech was protected and the harassment wasn’t.

  5. I agree. I’m a huge free speech supporter. I’m a huge opponent of harassment.

    Their behavior seems obviously to fall under the latter category. This seems to be a bad ruling, one not necessary in order to defend free speech and protest.

  6. I think its quite clear that at some point they will go too far and either end up in shackles and praying for soap on a rope or getting involved with such costly litigation that it ruins them.

    Lets just hope that’s soon, because option number 3 is one of these motorcycle guys that escorts the bodies snaps and pounds them soundly into small puddles while the rest of America applauds.

    Visually pleasing, but less optimal than the first two options.

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