The Westboro Baptist Church has won a Supreme Court case on Wednesday for their right to protest at military funerals.
The case involved a small fringe church in Topeka, Kansas widely known for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers, reasoning that their deaths were a direct result of God’s wrath against homosexual acceptance. The case went to court in 2006 over a protest at the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, age 20, in Westminster, Maryland.
While very few people agree with the church’s position or reasoning, the court’s most liberal and most conservative judges stood by the 1stAmendment right to free speech by an 8 -1 vote, with Justice Samuel Alito being the only one in dissent.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that “As a nation…we have chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.” Robert Barnes of The Washington Post writes that the decision “writes a new chapter in the court’s findings that freedom of speech is so central to the nation that it protects cruel and unpopular protests.” Rutherford Institute’s John Whitehead said of this ruling, “Robust free speech – even of the extreme variety – in the open marketplace of ideas is one of the few hopes we have as citizens.” Floyd Abrams, a Bill of Rights defender, said “The ruling today represents another example of American fidelity to the principle of freedom of expression to a degree that is unknown anywhere else in the world.”
The case is Snyder vs. Phelps.