Supreme Court rules for anti-gay church over military funeral protests
March 2nd, 2011
10:11 AM ET
3 years ago

Supreme Court rules for anti-gay church over military funeral protests

Washington (CNN) - A Kansas church that attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members has won its appeal at the Supreme Court, an issue testing the competing constitutional rights of free speech and privacy.

The justices, by an 8-1 vote, said Wednesday that members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars. The father of a fallen Marine had sued the small church, saying those protests amounted to targeted harassment and an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (69 Responses)
  1. Scott

    It isn't highly surprising, but this church isn't really just anti-gay .. they are anti-American .. they are a hateful bunch that just want attention.

    March 2, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. gt

    sad...sad...sad... i wonder if there is ever to much freedom speech...drip ...drip..drip...the tearing down of america...drip..drip..

    March 2, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  3. Thatguy371

    I'm protesting Fred Phelps' funeral when he finally croaks.

    March 2, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  4. Darth Vadik, CA

    Now, this is something that even Republicans will agree with me on...

    Let them free speech all they want, but also let the HeII's Angels, who volunteer to guard some of these funerals of heroes go to work on these freaks with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch....

    March 2, 2011 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  5. yellerdog

    Unbelievable. Those 'church' members will surely burn in 'their' hell.

    March 2, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Charlie from the North

    eight to one? Really? What about the "Clear and present danger" exception? If these unChristian morons do not represent a danger who does? I want to know who the eight is so I may thank him or her for remembering that "clear an present danger" thing.

    March 2, 2011 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  7. Lee

    Very dangerous business, protesting military funerals on the side of the road. Cars are such unpredictable machines, they can veer out of control and sharply swerve so easily...

    March 2, 2011 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  8. The unsub

    These are the end of days....What happened to America?

    March 2, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. David

    The justices, by an 8-1 vote, said members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars, but it is not a protest, it is simply and purely hatred to anything they do not like. Thank you oh wise ones who can never see the truth. It so great to justices that are simply morons.

    March 2, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  10. Corey, Maryland

    "This would be the best of all worlds if there was no religion in it." – John Adams
    "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shown on mankind" -Thomas Jefferson

    I could go on with many more quotes........

    You Christians are destroying this country, there is no other point of view on this issue, it is an absolute. The founding fathers thought it back then, and it still holds true today. The USA is NOT the greatest country in the world anymore, and never will be again until the veil of religion is removed from this countries face. Until then, you have no one to blame but yourselves for every "issue" in this country. Look at how a Theocracy is working for Iran, that is where this country is headed and most of you are too stupid realize it.

    March 2, 2011 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  11. Zack

    What an embarassement to this country. The Church AND the ruling.

    March 2, 2011 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. David

    A protest is a protest and everyone has that right, but want they do by having signs with racial slurs and voicing bigotry is pure hatred. Do they remember they wanted to protest the little girls death in the Arizona shooting? Please spare me, they preach nothing but hatred, for god-sake there all basically relatives brainwashed by there so-called leader, that sounds like a cult.

    March 2, 2011 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Chuck

    I'm in defense of free speech, however, this church group is going over the line when going after funeral families and friends of a deceased soldier. There has to be a limit on this kind of free speech.

    March 2, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  14. MikeH

    The decision is Constitutionally sound, as repulsive as these religious deviates are, they have the right to freedom of assembly.
    Apparently the Koch Brothers didn't pay Scalia and Thomas to vote against Westboro.

    March 2, 2011 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  15. Kelley

    This is really screwed up... I support all the amendments including the right to gather for peaceful protest and the right to voice your opinion, but this is outrageous. These hateful people have nothing whatsoever to do with legitimate religion and do not deserve the tax break given them for their "church." If they knew anything about Jesus they'd know that Love, not hate, conquers all, and God is the only true judge of man. Shameful. Just shameful.

    March 2, 2011 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  16. sean

    Can't say I'm surprised

    The court basically had its hands tied, as despicable as the words are people still have the right to say them, that being said I still think the father should have the right to sue for damages, being free to speak doesn't mean you don't get to be held responsible for the words

    March 2, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  17. David

    according the the picture CNN posted they and God hates America. So why are they even here then, leave? I know God can be vengeful and loving, but know God hates, that in itself is just stupid for any religion to think or preach.

    March 2, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  18. julie wilton

    I am a follower of Christ and I abhor what Westboro does. They are sick!!!

    March 2, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  19. yellerdog

    Unbelievable. Way to go Supreme Court. Let's see how any of you feel when these low-lifes arrive at a funeral of one
    of your family members who was killed in line of duty. Oh, sorry, you probably don't have any family members in the Military
    serving active duty.

    March 2, 2011 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  20. David S

    The justices, by an 8-1 vote, said members of Westboro Baptist Church had a right to promote what they call a broad-based message on public matters such as wars, but it is not a protest, it is simply and purely hatred to anything they do not like. Thank you oh wise ones who can never see the truth. It so great to justices that are simply morons.

    March 2, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  21. Name

    Garbage garbage garbage! These people have no idea what following Jesus is about. God bless the military families who have lost a loved one.

    March 2, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  22. Kelley

    And what have they got against The Guy? Why is Guy Fawkes on their poster? Just proves their stupidity...

    March 2, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  23. Chris

    Those people are cowards hiding behind laws that let them spread messages of hate after a man is dead. He gave his life for this country and family he should be respected.

    March 2, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  24. trent johnson

    They have the right to protest but not at a funeral and the inflamatory signs are too much we dont protest them we need to protect our military not protest them . What if we stopped protecting you all who have no clue what we face covering your asses

    March 2, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  25. JT

    Not a fan of their message, or religion at all, but this is a very good verdict. I wonder who the one justice was that dissented.

    March 2, 2011 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
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