Supreme Court rules for anti-gay church over military funeral protests
March 2nd, 2011
10:11 AM ET
12 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.


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

    It seems free speech applies to everyone, popular or not. I wonder who the dissenting vote is?

    March 2, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  2. Thehappyfool

    The right to free speech is easy to uphold until you encounter speech like this. Nonpopular, even disagreable speech needs the most protection and the court acted correctly siding with the church. The right to speak freely doesn't exist if it only applies to speech the majority agrees with. Nevertheless, the westboro baptists should understand that just because you have the right to do something, doesn't mean that you should or that it is the eight coarse of action. It pains me to see a group call themselves a church with Christ so far from their hearts.

    March 2, 2011 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  3. Cathie

    I feel that they should not be allowed to protest. We leave our families to go to war and fight for our freedoms and people want to protest at our funerals. That is a bunch of bull. These people have the right of freedom of speech because we fight for it. They need to use there freedom of speech on themselves and not those that have left home to protect our country. People realize that you would not have these freedoms if we did not fight for them. Leave us military alone.

    March 2, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. once upon a horse

    it is great to be able to have freedom of speech in our nation, but some groups really abuse that priviledge and I think this happens to be one that does. I am really kind of surprised that this particular court would rule this way.

    March 2, 2011 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. Chap

    That church has problems

    March 2, 2011 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Chap

    Well see what happens at there funerals when vetrans can return the favor.

    March 2, 2011 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. richard

    Absolutely reprehensible.

    March 2, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. OneMoreTime

    So, we can be concerned about the "cruel and unusual" punishment for convited criminals, we can bring guns to political
    rallies, we can offer veiled threats to those we hate, and now we can disrupt the saddest moments of life with our
    hateful words and "cruel and unusual" signs. I love our freedom of speech, however, these people are not
    Christians, they have no belief of God's preachings or they would, at the very least, have compassion for those who are
    grieving. SCOTUS has judged, but the Westboro Baptist Church has yet to face the ultimate Judge, and they will
    have a lot of explaining to do.

    March 2, 2011 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    All right, let's try this......let those opposing this church, picket the church, and pass the word to all, that the "Devil resides at Westbrook Baptist"!

    Those who are members there......are devil worshippers.

    March 2, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. DemoCommunists for a Better Way - Bankruptcy

    The "solution" to this problem of ignorance and inconsideration will unfortunately come when these animals try to pull this stunt with the wrong family and several people die as a consequence. If I was on the jury, I would not vote to convict them for anything other than animal cruelty.

    March 2, 2011 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Indy

    This will make every Republican smile today

    March 2, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  12. Marcus

    The problem that if we start with a group that admits that they promote 'God's Hate' (and not Love), and because of that is not well seen by the majority of all sane people (including the Justices), where would we finish?
    Remember those scenes about the civil rights movement in the 50's and 60's where the firefighters simply their hoses on those 'against God's will' men and women that dared to say that the status quo in the South was right?
    Yeah, they have the right to protest their ridiculously (man's not God's) hate filled stuff in public places, as well as those who are against their disrespect have the right to protest against them...
    So, if you hear that they are coming to your neighborhood disrespect a family's worst hour (no matter how bravely the man or woman died it is a huge pain for his/her family)... organize a PEACEFUL anti Westboro Baptist church protest...

    March 2, 2011 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Dr. No

    Once again, the Supreme court has ruled that you have no privacy, that any screaming bigot has a right to harrass you but you have no right to avoid such harassment.

    March 2, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. Marine Veteran

    This "church" showed up to one of my friends funeral who died in Afghanistan, and my buddies wife set up a face book counter protest and three thousand people showed up to counter protest along with the patriot guard. It makes me mad they do this but the right to free speech can't be inhibited. Way to many of my buddies died and I can't stand the fact these people promote hate speech

    March 2, 2011 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Marcus

    Sorry for the typos.
    Where it's written 'where the firefighters simply their hoses on' read 'where the firefighters simply AIMED their hoses AT'
    and where it's written 'dared to say that the status quo in the South was right' read 'dared to say that the status quo in the South was NOT right'

    March 2, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Kevin

    We need tn get an army of drag queens & trans' together & start going to that church.

    March 2, 2011 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  17. Lester Bangs

    Funny how silent other churches and religions have been on these carnival side-show freaks.

    March 2, 2011 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  18. cerovac

    This is redicules I bet it would be a whole nother matter if a bunch of athiest went to there church and blamed war and death and the demise of man kind on jesus christ and our supposed wonderful god. If they don't remember he is the creator of all!!!!!!!

    March 2, 2011 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. SA in OO

    Sad but correct.
    Even idiots have the right of free speech even if the things they say hateful. Just ask Beck and Limbaugh. And talking heads of the radical right blow right past the truth telling lies they know have no basis in reality, just for effect.

    March 2, 2011 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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