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Marine dad, Westboro church in court

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Marine dad, Westboro church in court

Today the Supreme Court will take up the case of Snyder v. Phelps, and The American Legion will be present for the oral arguments. This case pits the privacy rights of Gold Star Marine dad Albert Snyder against the protest rights of Fred Phelps and members of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Phelps and his followers disrupted the funeral of Albert's son, Matthew Snyder, by holding anti-gay signs that read "Semper Fi Fags" and "Thank God for IEDs." A Maryland jury trial awarded Albert Snyder millions of dollars in awards, but the Fourth Circuit overturned the ruling on appeal.

The Tort action alleges that Fred Pehlps' actions amounted to an "Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress," a common law Tort in Maryland where the funeral occurred. At the time the Fourth Circuit overruled the lower court judgment, the court also awarded Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church $15,000 in legal fees. The American Legion's Burn Pit blog immediately leapt into action to support Mr. Snyder and raised nearly $20,0000. However, TV talk show personality Bill O'Reilly paid the fees on behalf of Mr. Snyder, and so The American Legion is using the collected funds to help in the legal fight. Part of that aid took the form of an Amicus (or Friend of the Court) brief which argued in part:

Whether by protesting or proselytizing, the right to express one's religious views lies at the heart of the First Amendment. Indeed, this is a principle for which many members of amicus The American Legion have risked their lives - and for which many military personnel, like petitioner's son, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, have died. Contrary to the decision below, however, this case is not about the right to protest or proselytize. It is about the state's longestablished interest in shielding private citizens from "focused picketing" - which, as this Court has noted, is "fundamentally different from more generally directed means of communication that may not be completely banned."

Stay tuned to www.legion.org because within hours of its conclusion, The American Legion will report on the oral arguments presented at the hearing.

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stephiebear

October 8, 2010 - 1:59am

I have an answer for the Supreme Court: Yes, the First Amendment says we have the "right" to Freedom of Speech, SO LONG as that "right" does not INFRINGE on the RIGHTS OF OTHERS! The Good Book has the Golden Rule, "Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You" in there for a reason, and I CANNOT think of a better reason than this! All someone has to ask themselves (like this group) is, "Would I WANT someone making this type of scene at a funeral of MY relative?" or "How would I LIKE or FEEL if someone did something like THIS at MY brother, sister, father, mother, grandmother's, etc., funeral? If the answer is NEGATIVE IN THE SLIGHTEST, than the answer for the Supreme Court has been solved! I believe morality can be legislated...WITH COMMON SENSE & EMPATHY!

namvet6672

October 8, 2010 - 12:20am

I find it a pity that a bunch of misguided, callous miscreants have the balls to claim First Amendment rights in this case. However, this country was founded on the principles included within that First Amendment. Freedom of speech was one of the principle reasons the new Americans fought to win independence from England in the first place. That said, I remember an axiom I first heard back in the sixties: "You can't legislate morality". That, my friends, is the bottom line in this case. Whether these sorry excuses for citizens have the right is moot, in my opinion. The greater question, I think, is "where and when" and, just as importantly, what's happened to their sense of decency and morality? As a two-tour veteran of Vietnam I am sickened by the way some people in our society choose to behave. This particular kind of "demonstrating" is especially demeaning, insulting, harassing, mean-spirited and despicable. To the Court; JUST SAY NO AND MAKE THEM PAY!!

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