Main | Tuesday, March 09, 2010

SCOTUS To Hear Westboro Case

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the man who sued Westboro Baptist Church for picketing the funeral of his son.
The Supreme Court will review whether anti-gay protests at funerals of American soldiers are protected by the First Amendment, taking up the appeal of a Maryland man who won and then had reversed a $10 million verdict against the small Kansas church that conducts the demonstrations. The funeral protest case is brought by a Maryland father whose son's 2006 funeral in Westminster was picketed by members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan. Westboro pastor Fred W. Phelps Sr. contends that the deaths of American soldiers are punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality and has organized nearly 43,000 protests since 1991, according to the church's Web site. Phelps and members of his church -- which consists primarily of him and members of his extended family -- say they were not targeting Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in action in Iraq. But they say they have learned that demonstrating at funerals gets the most public and media attention for their message that the nation's tolerance for gays has resulted in punishment, especially the deaths of American soldiers.
The hearing is scheduled for September. In response to Westboro's demonstrations, more than 40 states have established minimum distance requirements for protests at military funerals, laws that Westboro has never broken.

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