Derogatory Free Speech: Court Overturns Lawsuit Against Church

Posted by Audiegrl

Funeral ProtestEUR—A federal court has ruled that it’s acceptable for church members to picket outside the funeral of a gay soldier holding signs that read reading “God hates fags” and “Thank God for dead soldiers” because their message was protected under the First Amendment Right of free speech.

In doing so the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., reversed a lower court’s $5 million award against Westboro Baptist Church concluding that members didn’t violate the privacy of the family of fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder when they picketed his 2006 funeral in Westminster.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the Westboro membership is made up largely of the members of a single extended family who say the deaths of U.S. service members are God’s way of showing he disapproves of America’s alleged tolerance of homosexuality.

More @ EUR

Mathews father, Albert Snyder talks with reporters Oct. 31 at the federal courthouse in Baltimore. (AP Photo/The (Baltimore) Sun, Glenn Fawcett)

Mathews father, Albert Snyder talks with reporters Oct. 31, 2007. (AP Photo/The (Baltimore) Sun, Glenn Fawcett)

Associated Press—A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the signs contained “imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric” protected by the First Amendment. Such messages are intended to spark debate and cannot be reasonably read as factual assertions about an individual, the court said.

A jury in Baltimore had awarded Albert Snyder damages for emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The 2006 funeral of Snyder’s son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder in Westminster, Md., was among many military funerals that have been picketed by members of the fundamentalist Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas.

Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder

Fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder

Albert Snyder’s attorney, Sean E. Summers, said he and his client were disappointed.

“The most troubling fact is it leaves these grieving families helpless,” Summers said. “If you can’t use the civil process, you have no recourse.”

He said he will appeal the ruling to either the full appeals court or to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We feel we owe that to Mr. Snyder and other families who have been harassed, humiliated and abused,” Summers said.

More @ Associated Press


Filed under Culture, Gay (LGBT) Rights, Law, Military, Partisan Politics, Politics, Republicans, Supreme Court, Uncategorized

7 responses to “Derogatory Free Speech: Court Overturns Lawsuit Against Church

  1. who’s idea was this whole “free speech” thing anyway?

    • audiegrl

      This is just hateful behavior. I only put up one photo, but if you google it, there are tons of disgusting photos. I know its their right, but it is inhuman to do that outside of a soldiers funeral. Those folks just lost their son. Who by the way got killed in Iraq for all of us.

      The disrespect that was shown to the whole family is a disgrace.

      I remember back in the eighties when the KKK used to parade in Skokie, IL, which has a large population of Jewish people. This is the same kind of thing…

  2. betsmeier

    This same church comes to Colorado Springs to picket at the funerals of soldiers at the Ft. Carson chapel. But they can’t get on Ft. Carson because they don’t have IDs, thank goodness. I can’t find anything more troubling for a family to have to deal with these cold hearted people who are no more Christian then the man in the moon. And who knows, the man in the moon may be Christian.

    They come here quite frequently and it’s really disturbing when they do.

    I pray that whatever court they take it to will overturn the last courts ruling.

    • audiegrl

      Unfortunately, they are protected by the First Amendment. As disgusting as their behavior is, they are within their rights. Same thing with the KKK in Skokie, IL.

      We’ll have to ask Ogenec about this, but it seems like there might be a way for the family to sue them for emotional damages in Civil Court? Or maybe the IRS could get their non-profit tax exemption revoked. Either way, there has to be another legal way to make them stop.

  3. A United States Sailor

    My Brother is in the Air Force in Afghanistan. I am in the Navy in Japan. I find it utterly appalling that I have to fight to keep these motherfuckers free……they do not deserve the right to say what God hates or what he loves, because even God himself said, “Even if you are as Red as Scarlet, I can make you white as snow” Which means he forgives. But I can not forgive these fucks. Please let me catch them anywhere near a soldier’s, sailor’s, marine’s, or airman’s funeral and you can best believe that I will kill them… end of story

    • That same group was protesting outside of the court house in Washington, DC yesterday, because it was the first day that gay couples could legally apply for marriage licenses. Same type of signs. It’s appalling, and they had kids carrying the signs too. SMDH Here’s the link

      Let me be clear, I don’t wish any violence on them, but would just appreciate it if they could at least act like their human beings and show some decency.

      Thank you and your brother for your service to this country.

    • please be careful with the language and the threats, you’re being irresponsible, especially for active military.

      It’s possible to express your opinion without the overt threat of violence.

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