Damn you, Westboro Baptist Church, for making it necessary for signs like “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “AIDS cures fags” to be protected speech.
The highest court in the land has ruled in favor of the hate-spewing church in a ruling that every free speech proponent pretty much ever likely feels very squicky about supporting. The father of deceased marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder brought a suit against the church following Snyder’s 2006 funeral in Maryland, hoping to prevent other families to being exposed to the group’s notoriously upsetting invective during the funerals of loved ones- but the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of the church’s right to protest:
“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.
“Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro. Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible,” he said. However, “As a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
Of the nine judges on the panel, Justice Samuel Alito was the sole dissenter.