Legion laments funeral protest ruling

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Legion laments funeral protest ruling
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church congregation demonstrate outside the U.S. Supreme Court as oral arguments are presented debating their right to protest near the funerals of fallen warriors. Photo by Craig Roberts

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the legal right of the Westboro Baptist Church to stage anti-gay protests at military funerals, the leader of The American Legion expressed disappointment in the High Court’s 8-to-1 ruling.

It was a defeat for Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine killed in Iraq in 2006.

“While we understand the Supreme Court ruling and we appreciate the sanctity of freedom of speech, we are very disappointed that any American would believe it appropriate to express such sentiments as those expressed by the Westboro Baptist Church, especially at the funeral of an American hero who died defending the very freedoms this church abuses,” said Jimmie L. Foster, national commander of The American Legion.

“Our sympathy goes out to the Snyder family and all bereaved family members who have had to endure such abuse,” Foster said.

The American Legion had filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Snyder family. The Legion’s Burn Pit blog also helped the Snyder family monetarily, raising money for them to help cover their court fees against the Westboro Baptist Church, which won a $16,000-settlement against the family in an appeals court. The Legion Riders and Patriot Guard motorcycle groups will continue to be present at military funerals, providing security and masking the protests of Westboro members present.

Click here for further details surrounding the Supreme Court's ruling.

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rstetson

March 5, 2011 - 11:33am

I agree that its up to the Legion to provide screening for the funerals of our fallen brothers, and anything we say about the Westboro protesters is also legal. Where I live, we had 3 of our young men killed within a week. The Westies showed up at the first 2 funerals, and despite the best efforts of our cops and motorcycle guys, there were problems. So the local police build a Jersey Wall "demonstration area" in one of the parks, away from the funeral, called out the K-9 Corps, the State Police Operations Center, and generally built a place off the road where they could spew their hate. A couple of local churches mounted counter demonstrations. Guess what - the Westies NEVER SHOWED. I personally think that some well timed "demonstrations" against Westboro would be in order, but I'm not sure we want to slide down to their level. And I wonder what they'll say when they find that their hate filled belief structure doesn't match those of Christ's. By then its too late.

pepe and penelope

March 4, 2011 - 9:45pm

I know that a person or group has the right to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of just about everything on earth here in America. But, you don't have the freedom to "HARASS" a family in the time of great sorrow. In a way, I just look at who is doing this. It is a "SATANISTIC" group. Their God is LUCIFER. It is not the same as the God this wonderful country was founded on. We need to band together and picket their church, outside legally on their sidewalks. What goes around comes around. Pray for them. Once you side up with lucifer, you are almost beyond help. There is very little hope left, but a smidge is all they have left. We, both, are Veterans of the Vietnam Era. If it was legal, I think that I would hit one or more on the head with a baseball bat, but their head is just hard as their hearts, that it would just break my good bat. thank you.....

warmanzulu

March 4, 2011 - 4:59pm

Amen Brother!

warmanzulu

March 4, 2011 - 4:58pm

Amen Brother!

schehld

March 4, 2011 - 9:58am

If you believe in the constitution you had to know that freedom of speech and freedom of religion would trump your right to privacy. The Amerikan citizens already gave away their right to privacy when Bush started the surveillance of all citizens five years before the so called Patriot Act was passed. I wish you all would be as upset with the loss of our 4th amendment rights. When did we allow a police state become law so violate our rights to privacy by searching our underwear if we want to fly? Some of you need to think about what your saying regarding threats to the lives of the Justices and pistol whipping those you disagree. I assume Homeland Security must monitor this site for the legion is known as a right wing radical group. Oh, but of course I almost forgot, your allowed to vent it's called freedom of spech.

Davedgreat2000

March 4, 2011 - 9:28am

This is a victory for Freedom of Speech and not the support of the Westboro Baptist Chruch. We should support the decision of the supreme court as a victory for the First Admendment. If we don't support the Supreme Courts decision, we are doomed to have our rights taken away. By supporting the decision we are not supporting the Westboro Chruch and what they are doing we are supporting what WE VETERANS have been fighting for for several generations - THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and our CONSTITUTION. I believe we should condem the People of Westboro Chruch for what they are doing but we should support their right to do it if we truly believe in the Constitution of the United States and the First Amendment.

wbrummer

March 4, 2011 - 9:10am

Although this great country guarantees us rights, such as freedom of speech and expression, what most don't understand, and this apparently includes the Supreme Court, is that our rights only extend to where they impose on others rights. In this case, these idiots are imposing on the rights of these military families to peacefully bury their loved ones. If the Westboro Baptist Church congregation wants to picket in front of the White House, fine, that is their right, but they need to leave grieving families alone. Maybe we should re-instate the draft and send all of their sons to the hottest places in Afghanistan and see how they feel about it then.

Michael Jerman

March 4, 2011 - 8:53am

I am a retired US Army Sergeant Major, and I hate to think that my service defended the rights of these jackels. Perhaps their so called "church" needs to have noisy demonstrations at it on an ongoing basis. These people don not speak for God. They speak for evil.

hunterkenzie

March 4, 2011 - 7:48am

My father a retired master sergant from the air force of twenty one years made a good point last night they may not be able to change there right of the 1st amendment freedom of speech but the congress can pass a law of how close the can get from a funeral.

jimu

March 3, 2011 - 10:41pm

I absolutely deplore the action by this 'nut case' church. However, I take offense that the American Legion takes offense by the Supreme Court ruling. I fought for the right of Americans to be able to express themselves. I may not agree with that expression (and in this case I vehemently disagree with this, so called, church group), but I will fight to the death (and I have, although not quite to the the death since I'm still here writing this...)their right to express themselves.

dallenpatriot

March 3, 2011 - 8:57pm

This definitely is another example of an OBAMANATION! The Muslim in Chief has appointed the progressives to the court and stacked the deck. I was dissappointed that Judge (Thats a Lie) Alito was the only dissenting vote. My God you cant yell fire in a crowded theatre but you can yell vulgar remarks at a grieving family. The Nation I did 3 back to back tours in Nam is not what I fought for. Political correctness, political appointments to the Supreme Court have undermined this great Nation and I for one say its time as the Founders insisted to change this government by whatever means neccessary otherwise we are headed for the historical trash heap along with Greece, Rome and many other civilizations. Pray Chron. 2 7:14 because only Almightly God can save us now. The blood of those who will not stand by idlely will be on the hands of those 8 Supreme Court judges. Only God will be able to forgive them!

RichG663

March 3, 2011 - 7:56pm

I strongly urge my brothers in arms within the American Legion or not to stand and picket the Westboro Baptist Church every Sunday. These people need to know that the majority do not agree with them and our serviceman are voicing their disgust and their first amendment rights. Imagine how it would look if several hundred men and women in uniform walked around the Westboro Baptist Church every Sunday morning. Lets put the gay soldiers out front too.

jcfichtner

March 3, 2011 - 7:40pm

Does this Supreme Court ruling grant them the right to free speech as they see fit under the First Amendment? Then do I have the right to exercise my Second Amendment rights to bear arms and pistol whip them?

MDtop

March 3, 2011 - 7:31pm

The Supreme Court's decision to allow this church to protest should strengthen our right to protest their protest. I think every soldier being buried should have every military supporter show up at these protests. I wish there was a way to inform us, I'd be there. Gives me time to make my own sign.

jcfichtner

March 3, 2011 - 7:45pm

You can sign up to receive these notifications through the Patriot Guard Riders. It is free; no manditory meetings or dues. COME STAND FOR THOSE WHO STOOD FOR US. patriotguard.org

MDtop

March 3, 2011 - 8:56pm

Thanks for the info. I signed up. I'll be proud to show up and IN UNIFORM. Retired 1SG

Vietnam Era Coastie

March 3, 2011 - 6:14pm

The U.S. Supreme Court is far from perfect. Numerous times it ruled that slavery WAS constitutional. The judges are picked politically -- not elected by the people. They interpret the Constitution I swore to defend and this time they got it wrong, once again. We have freedom of speech but at a funeral there are some basic human and privacy rights too. A soldier's funeral is NOT a public forum. Protest at a politician's funeral, like a Supreme Court Judge, where the taxpayer pays the bill, or at public buildings but honor the right to respect that a soldier's family deserves. The founders of this country knew that freedom must have limits.

Ron Wilson

March 3, 2011 - 4:28pm

If "they", the protesters, disrespect the brave MEN & WOMEN of the Great Nation enough to carry the kind of signs shown then they're willing to have their ass kicked as far as I am concerned... Are any of you as sick of this as I am ? I lost 17 Freinds in Vietnam as well as all our other Brothers & Sisters... Of course once the pricks, with the signs, have their ass kicked they will cry to the Police to protect them won't they ? Duh please excuse my stupid question...

skiprt

March 3, 2011 - 3:16pm

There is no way to put a good face on the ridiculous Supreme Court ruling allowing protests of military funerals. It is time to put a benevolent dictator in charge and start making a new form of government. What would a Patton or MacArthur have done about this? You can't yell fire in a crowded theater or threaten the life of the President. But, now you can carry signs rejoicing in the murder of American troops. No way.

usstamps

March 3, 2011 - 3:13pm

Ah yes. You disagree with the ruling and I agree. Just one of the many benefits we all enjoy as Americans - the RIGHT to disagree. I admit, those who disagree with policies of the American military could find a more polite and agreeable (and effective?) way to express their opinion but their right to conform or not is just as important as your right to agree or not. Like many others, I spent the best part of my life (27 years) defending the Constitution and I don't agree with all the decisions that impact us everyday, but it makes my heart soar to see or hear of someone who will not back down from their rights granted to all of us. A good way to express you displeasure (or pleasure) is to talk to your elected officials. I suggest you do this frequently as it's really the backbone of what we as Americans enjoy the most (DEMOCRACY)!

Gysgt6

March 3, 2011 - 2:56pm

Just wanted to add this; THIS IS ONE HECK OF AN IDEA WE SHOULD WE FOUGHT FOR THAT RIGHT WE CAN USE IT AS THEY CAN!!

Gysgt6

March 3, 2011 - 2:52pm

I spent 18months fight for freedoms that we have today, but when I see this or even hear about it I just get ill. What do these people think they are doing, by disturbing a time of grieve that family have to go through when they lose one of their own. I don't agree with the court they need to walk in our shoes and see what we see what's happening to this country and that didn't help. Now this church is going to get more bold in their movements and protests, I for one am a believer in christ and I don't believe that this is the right way and they will pay when they pass and try to sit with christ they will be surprised. I just think that all of this is just a bunch of miss informed people who don't care, and how do they know if those that die are wha they say I don't. I spent 17 years serving my country and I would do it all over again, and if I wasn't to old I would volunteer to go any where they would want me to go!!!

hunterkenzie

March 3, 2011 - 2:10pm

as a sister of an american soldier i am appalled by what this cult is doing because they are definately not christians by far means. I grew up in a baptist church. I think it is vulger and disrespectful that they would even think of doing something like this to people that defend are country to keep there lives safe. How dare them. And if the constitution and the government are going to allow people to be vulgur in this manner then what type of country is this. If they want to protest then do it else where. They think there smart on there beliefs but god will see and they will face judgement when that day comes.

padri

March 3, 2011 - 1:47pm

This ruling was correct. I served my country to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, not some other country. If the court had ruled differently we would have ceased to be Americans. I deplore what this Baptist Church has done yet I gladly would defend their right to protest in this fashion. In addition, as despicable as their actions have been, they were in compliance with the law. They were over 1000 feet from the funeral in question. The father did not even know they were there until after the funeral was over. Those are the facts. Let us speak the truth and defend it and our constitution.

johnnybravo2109

March 3, 2011 - 1:42pm

Maybe the Legion could get notified when any member of this congregation or family member of this congregation passes. I would love to exercise some of those same rights to protest at their funerals.

whaggard1

March 3, 2011 - 1:38pm

I think that the Supreme Court got it right. I don't like them picketing the funerals of fallen soldiers. I don't agree with any of their reasons for the picketing. I think the additional grief caused by their picketing is a real shame. I think that they are a "Blight on the face of Christianity". But, they got the right to act like jerks, if they want..

dr.billt

March 3, 2011 - 1:29pm

That the government can pick and choose which parts of the Constitution they can uphold and which parts they can shoot down. This has got to be the most irritating and riducous thing I have every heard. The very freedoms that this Marine upheld is allowed to be cast to the ground and trampled on, reminds one of the returning vets from Nam and the stupid idiotic things that they had to endure- they love this country and should be remembered as heroes! the cowards are the ones who do nothing yet speak the loudest! This church (and I too am a Christian but ashamed to say that these are my brothers and sisters) Jesus never judged why to they? Such hurtful things!

pickford56

March 3, 2011 - 1:09pm

Who cares what really goes on in someone's bedroom ? I never thought I'd see this day come!

antoniomerrick1

March 3, 2011 - 10:19am

As a veteran, I personally do not agree with the protest however, I have faith in the fact that the Supreme Court made the right decision based on the argument that was bought forth by the family members. The Supreme Court upheld a state ban on cross burning in 2003. Justice Clarence Thomas for an example dissented but stated his reason was because the court didn’t even have to consider the first Amendment implications because cross burning is clearly a form of intimidation. The Supreme Court decision on cross burning is the grounds the family should have argued and not a case on Speech vs. Privacy. There are also laws on the books for hate crimes, so there was another angle. I believe their legal team may have thought of this angel but did not want the storm that would follow comparing their protest to cross burning however, if you take the politics from this, then you will find the strong legal grounds. I miss writing white papers..LOL Antonio Merrick Post 364

rstetson

March 3, 2011 - 8:46am

Yes, it allows nut cases (or any other political preacher) to insult our fallen brothers, but it also firms up the right of free political speech by churches and other public organizations. Right now there is a move among the PC people to make any religious comment on homosexuality, or other activities that openly fly against a church's beliefs as a hate crime, exposing Priests and Pastors to criminal charges based on a sermon or homily that points out that church's beliefs. As most of us know, if you attend a church that believes in the inerrancy of the Bible, homosexuality is specifically banned! In some other countries, teaching this belief from the Old Testament is technically illegal. The Court now has affirmed the right of a church body and its members to proclaim its beliefs in public, regardless of how inappropriate others may think those beliefs are. The PC police may be celebrating today, but once they realize what the court has done, they will be frantic!

bamboo sheets

March 2, 2011 - 8:38pm

I enjoyed reading your post and I like your take on the issue. Thanks.

dravyn73

March 2, 2011 - 2:10pm

I have an idea. Lets rally our ALR brothers and sisters and ride our motorcycles to the steps of the Supreme Court and rev our thousands strong mechanical voices in protest to OUR rights. Lets set an unprecedented record of decibel, shaking the very foundation, letting America know that WE former and present soldiers reject their ruling and request a recount. We, as soldiers, are trained to protect this nation from all threats foreign and domestic. I plead to all true Americans, to stand together between these hypocritical representatives of Americanism and our courageous men and women who gave their lives to defend that freedom banner that they are standing behind. Talk about a slap to the face. Whats next, digging up the soldiers corpses and burning the American flag on their exposed bodies? Why not fly a plane into another populated landmark? I never thought Id see the day an American institution, OUR American courts, who would allow American Terrorists to protest on our soil...

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