First, let me apologize to my readers for my absence. My dear mother passed away and I’m sure you all understand that blogging during that time wasn’t possible. Thank you for understanding.
It comes as no real surprise that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church and its First Amendment right to picket at the funerals of soldiers. That church believes that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court.
“What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to ‘special protection’ under the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote, “and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous.”
Roberts also wrote:
“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,” Roberts said. “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.”
Justice Samuel Alito was the lone dissenter. He wrote:
“Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,” he said.
Read the full court opinion here.
Here are some articles on the ruling:
Disclaimer: The information, comments and links posted on the blog do not constitute legal advice. I will not respond to any specific legal questions in the comments section of this blog. Read my entire disclaimer.
copyright 2011 Irene C. Olszewski