Thursday, March 3, 2011

Protests By Small Church at Funerals Upheld

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled against a York County man who sued a Kansas-based fundamentalist church for carrying out anti-gay protests at his Marine son's funeral.
By an 8-1 margin, the nation's highest court sided with the Westboro Baptist Church -- saying the First Amendment protects the protests. That church group sees the deaths of U.S. soldiers as punishment for the acceptance of homosexuality.
Albert Snyder had filed suit against the church after members picketed his son Matthew's funeral in 2006.
The Supreme Court took up the case after an appeals court tossed out a five-million dollar judgment to the Spring Garden Township man.
One of Snyder's lawyer, Craig Trebilcock says the justices have expanded the definition of First Amendment protection...

"One significant thing in this case today is, based on the court's opinion under the First Amendment, even if you inflict physical harm on another person, it may be First Amendment protected as a defense. And that is significant declaration by this court.

Trebilcock says Snyder's experienced clinical depression as a result of the church's continued harassment by the church online. Trebilcock says his client is now concerned about future protests...

"He recognizes we're still at war, we're still sending our sons and daughters to Iraq and Afghanistan, and some of 'em don't come home. And that now the Westboro Baptist Church is just completely unrestrained from a campaign of abusing the families of these heroes when they fall and that's his focus today."

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