Fred Phelps Case (Westboro Baptist Church) heading to the Supreme Court

Fred Phelps Case (Westboro Baptist Church) heading to the Supreme Court
March 10th, 2010  

Topic: Fred Phelps Case (Westboro Baptist Church) heading to the Supreme Court

Fred Phelps Case (Westboro Baptist Church) heading to the Supreme Court
As you might be aware the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case of the Westboro Baptist Church run by Fred Phelps.

For those yet blessed not to know Phelps. He is the leader of a church (i.e cult) group (made of mostly of family) who believes the world his cursed by God for us allowing homosexuality. Every catastrophe on earth (wars, famine, disease, disaster) is because of our tolerence of gays.

He regularily pickets soldiers funerals, AIDS victims funerals, jewish synagogues, other churches, and basically whatever he can get attention with signs like God loves Dead Soldiers, God Hates Fa**s, and a bunch of simply odious comments designed to injury the grieving family. Like Adolf Hitler he peddles hate to the masses.

Fred Phelps is pure human bile, last night I listened to a semi-interview with him and the BBC (I say semi because Phelps refused to answer most questions) and I was simply struck what a absolute hate filled individual he was, they guy is a sociopath he seems to literaly hate the world and everyone in it. Ill shed no tears when he kicks the can.

But that isnt really what I to want to talk about, I think we all agree: hes scum. The focus of this thread is really a first amendment issue; does Fred Phelps and his loony followers have the right to picket soldiers funerals?

The Bush Administration instituted the policy of Free Speach Zones, meaning zones protesters were allowed to be that were a long ways away from the event they were protesting. A convient way to circumvent a individuals right to the 1st Amendment and in my IMHO a gross violation of 1st Amendment rights. The police has used this same policy to keep Phelps mad group from distrupting funerals and the like.

This policy is terrible, immoral, in my unconstutional as I dont think the 1st Amendment intend was to bottle up Free speach and lock it in a closet. However the idea that Phelps be allowed to harass people attending funerals is simply a nausaeting thought. I couldnt imagine what I would so if Phelps showed up at a funeral of family member of mine, only that USMC03 and 5.56 would probably be putting me in handcuffs at the end of it.

The court has long held the hateful speach is protected, but a new question is raised as Phelps group is invading our peoples right to privacy.

What do you all think, from a constitutional standpoint (and moral opinions aside, no point in answering morals, Phelps has proven he has no morals), does phelps have the right to protest at people funerals.
March 10th, 2010  
A Can of Man
If people act like children, they need to be treated like children.
It is like how smokers would be inconsiderate towards non smokers in restaurants etc. so now it is banned in most restaurants.
However this is speech... and yes it IS protected under the first ammendment.
I guess with the sort of regulation that the second ammendment is subject to, there is no logical reason why the first cannot be regulated either.
March 10th, 2010  
Should try and get a better understanding of what the Supreme Court is deciding on:

"In March 2006, the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq, at St. John's Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., drew some Phelps members who bore signs such as "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
Mr. Snyderhad been awarded $5 million in damages after he had sued for intentional harm and emotional distress. The judgment was later rescinded by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals, citing that although the speech of Phelps had been highly offensive and even "repugnant," it had been utilized in order to start debate about national issues which the Westboro Church see as a concern."

The Supreme Court decision may be rather narrow in scope. It will not be a anything goes "right to free speech decision".

Since a judgment was awarded and then the appeal court rescinded the judgment, the Supreme Court decision will be on legitimacy of the lawsuit and why.
It will decide whether the judgment can be enforced or the First Amendment protects Phelps. It does not look like it will rule on the Bush administrations "Free Speech Zones".

There already have been Supreme Court decisions to allow the government to keep areas free of protesters exercising their "right to free speech".

Example: protesters can not block access to abortion clinics.
Generally speaking the Free speech zones are far enough away from a funeral so as not to interrupt the services. Makes sense because if they are close enough to drown out the funeral service they are interfering with free speech right of the funeral assembly.
The free speech zones are not so far removed that the can not be seen.

Example: the National conventions had "Free speech zones" located near the main entrance, but not close enough to interfere with access to the conventions.

It is interesting to note how free speech issues like this would not even come up in Europe.
Britain has banned Phelps from the country for his views on gays.
A country like France that tries to dictate dress in its citizens would have no problem shutting Phelps down. (limiting women from covering their faces.)

I believe it is Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) who said "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death, your right to say it."

I do not agree with laws being made that try and outlaw certain speech, labeling it a hate crime to say certain words.
People tend to forget one benefit of hate type speech.
It does tend to identify people you may not agree with.
Fred Phelps Case (Westboro Baptist Church) heading to the Supreme Court
March 17th, 2010  
Duty Honor Country
Posts on planting bombs at protests and other such nonsense has no place in this thread and is against the forum rules.
March 18th, 2010  
-- Dusty
Yes sir. My apologies.

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