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. Rebecca

    These men and women are dying for our country and the best our supreme court can do is grant the trash from hillsboro church the right to protest? This is a damn shame. Hopefully one of these days they will show up to protest a military funeral and get a close look at the barrels of twenty one guns

    March 2, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  2. TB

    With an 8-1 vote, please no one make this a commentary on the "politics" of the Justices.

    March 2, 2011 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. David S

    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 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  4. stickman

    If this church hates america so bad, why dont they leave? Id donate to that fund....

    March 2, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  5. payback

    ...Well, these are the same people. Who vote republican.....And believe the Earth is flat..............

    March 2, 2011 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  6. David S

    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 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  7. HT

    This is abhorrent! You can now say anything about anybody with impunity. This "church" destroys religion.

    March 2, 2011 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  8. georgie

    there is a line between free speech and moral decency. how horrible and ammoral are these people to interrupt a funeral and intentially inflict emotional harm just to make a poltical statement.

    March 2, 2011 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. razmataz

    Well, they've got their rights, I know some folks that will use their rights to see that these folks are kept well away. A number of Veteran's Motorcycle Clubs around the country already interpose themselves. And last year, here in Oklahoma, there was 6-8 of them protesting a funeral, they returned to their van to find their tires slashed. None of the local reaair shops would help them, they had to call AAA and have it towed to the nearest Wal-Mart to get the repairs. One of the funniest things I heard all year.
    These folks'll get theirs, not to worrry!

    March 2, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Adrian

    After all, what's wrong with a little hate? Particularly from a church. That's not news to anyone, is it?

    March 2, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. jonathon

    A group of free thinkers should stage protests at their protests or at their church gatherings. Hey, its freedom of speech, right? Being from Oklahoma, I'd be happy to join in on giving these ignorant individuals a taste of their own "holy water," if you will.

    March 2, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  12. Marie MD

    The old farts at the supreme court should be ashamed!!! Can these people be impeached??
    This is beyond irresponsible. Whose rights are they protecting? A bunch of right wing bible thumping idiots who confuse gay bashing with our troops dying for the country? This isn't free speech. This is hate at it's worst!!!!
    We have become a Nation of stupid mindless individuals!!! The supreme court deserves zero respect! Shame on them!

    March 2, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  13. Sara

    I understand constitutional rights... but this is just disgusting. The picking at each word of a law/portion of the constitution just to find a loop hole to let the 'bad guys' get away with things like this (and even cold murder) is getting out of hand.
    I say we let good 'ol Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris rain some old fashioned justice on these people. FYI, not just talking about the Westboro crazies.

    March 2, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  14. DAK

    This is just wrong. I agree with their right to free speech, but I also agree with the family's right to a dignified burial. Let the "church" exercise their freedom of speech a few hundred yards away from the family... like the next state. I'm afraid I'd be exercising my right to punch someone in the mouth if they called it "good" that one of my children was killed in a war.

    March 2, 2011 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  15. Reg

    I don,t like the court's decision, but we can't pick and choose which parts of the bill of rights we like. All or none

    March 2, 2011 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  16. Mikey

    How would they feel if hundreds of angry protesters picketed their church every Sunday with signs that read "God hates intolerance"? It would be great for them to get a good dose of their own medicine.

    March 2, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. constitutionalists

    The Constitution is showing its age when it allows crap like this.....
    So, all of the Constitutionalists including Rand Paul, Ron Paul, monsanto Thomas, and that good ole grand tea party (GOTP) just shake their heads and demand that families of fallen soldiers must suffer this crap because of their holy, unbending faith in the Constitution....
    Screw the GOTP Constitutionalists and demand that the US retake America from the GOTP and restore our integrity

    March 2, 2011 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Anonymous

    Can a church call itself christian and be so insensitive at such a painfull time as the funeral of fallen soldier?

    March 2, 2011 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. Angie

    That church has already lost credibility on their teachings. 'GOD so loved the world that he sacrificed his only begotten son for all of mankind.' That means God does love the soldiers also. So the church claiming to be Christian does NOT believe or teach those words of the Bible.

    March 2, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  20. Name

    I say" like Hell they can"

    March 2, 2011 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  21. jmendoza

    The fallen hero's of our nation give their lives so we can have the right to "freedom of speech", and these extremists thank them by exericising their freedom of speech at their graves? I understand that the Supreme Court has to have an unbiased view, that the job is to interpret the Constitution in the name of justice and the rights of all americans alike, extremists or not. but a line has to be drawn somewhere. Especially when the people who die in order for us to have those rights cannot defend themselves from six feet under. Tell me, whose fighting for THEIR rights when voices of hate come to desecrate their graves?

    March 2, 2011 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  22. Thehappyfool

    Free speech is easy to agree with until you come to something like this. The most unpopular speech needs the most protection, the court made the right decision. But the westboro baptists should learn that merely having the right to something, does not mean you should, or that it's right. Sad to see a group call themselves a church with Christ so far from their hearts.

    March 2, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Sniffit

    I have to say I agree. The First Amendment gives them every right to publicly display just how crazy, deluded, hateful, nasty, horrible, paranoid, disgusting, obnoxious, etc., that they are...and we are all better off for having them trotting about town showing us just where overly dogmatic religious belief systems lead and why our founders explicitly separated it all from our system of government. Someone should be out there taknig pictures of all of them as they do it, taperecording their public idiocy and then posting it all over the intertubes for people to see. Why not? They take innocent women's pictures as they enter PP or other family planning service centers and then plaster their faces on the internet. It's high time someone do the same to them, so we can all see just how stark the juxtaposition is. Who do you really think looks like the crazy, evil, godless jackholes when you hold up those pictures side by side?

    March 2, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. JayName

    This church must not have anything better to do. If it wasn't for the armed service men and women of this country they probably wouldn't have the rite for free speech. I live in a small town and when they came here we had more people to block them so the grieving families wouldn't be able to see them so they packed up and left. I believe that if communities get together as one we can stop this BS. God bless our troops.

    March 2, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  25. NVa Native

    The creatures who protest like Westboro Baptist Church are disgusting, but it is their right to protest.

    But the ones who kill or promote killing for their religion of choice like the anti-abortion groups (operation rescue, some politicians in South Dakota, etc.) or al-Qaeda and the Taliban need to be stomped out.
    The intolerant fundamental religious groups, no matter Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc., are the most self-serving radical and dangerous scourge on our society and around the world.

    March 2, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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