While acknowledging their negative effects on public political discourse, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled, in an almost unanimous decision, that the First Amendment protects the wildly controversial Westboro Baptist Church in their funeral protests, confirming the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond.
The decision puts into relief a tension within the First Amendment: in picketing military funerals, the church claims its right to free speech; yet church’s main objective is, arguably, to disturb a religious funerary practice.
At any rate, as The Washington Post reports, church members and supporters are enthusiastic about the decision:
Margie Phelps, a lawyer and daughter of Phelps who argued the case at the court, struck a triumphant tone.
“Our reaction is thank God and praise his name,” she said in a phone interview. “He has a message for this nation, and from the Pentagon on down, you’re not going to be able to fight it.”[Rev. Fred] Phelps thanked Snyder for filing the suit and “putting a megaphone to the mouth of this little church.”
Read the full report from The Washington Post here.[H/T: New York Magazine]