Friday, October 8, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church deals with major hate speech determination

Fred Phelps and the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church have spared no personal bile throughout their protests of Marine funerals in recent years. Now the Supreme Court is getting involved, reports The Baltimore Sun. The Supreme Court is deliberating whether or not the Westboro Baptist Church’s protest of a 2006 funeral for an Iraq war veteran veered into hate speech territory, and whether the family of the dead solider is due a previously awarded (however later rescinded) monetary award for invasion of privacy and also emotional distress. Post resource – Westboro Baptist Church faces major hate speech decisio by Personal Money Store.

Baptist Church’s action in Westboro being named hate speech

Deceased soldier’s father Snyder attended his funeral on March 3, 2006. The Westboro Baptist Church protesters were not seen at the funeral but he saw them on TV after the funeral was over. The Westboro flock had been gathered outside St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Westminster, Md., during the memorial, with such signs as “Thank God for dead soldiers” and others that attacked homosexuality. The latter did not apply to the Marine or his family, but Westboro explained it as an attack against the “permissive” government the dead Marine served. The Sun reports the Westboro Baptist Church attacks the Marine who died, his family along with the catholic faith. This is done on a website that is kept up by Phelps’ daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roger.

Westboro gets prosecuted. Lawsuit about emotional distress and invasion of privacy

Snyder sued Westboro Baptist Church because of intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. The actions that Westboro committed were found to be very inappropriate by the Baltimore judge. The jury entirely agreed with the judge. The judge didn’t, nevertheless, award the $11 million request. It was changed to a $5 million award. The United States Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Westboro Baptist Church’s messages were protected by freedom of dialog in 2009 which changed the Baltimore verdict.

The Supreme Court will make the final decision. Snyder made an appeal obviously. Today was part one. There were oral arguments heard. The Sun accounts the decision can be made on whether a “private figure” can sue as a “target of hateful dialog.”.

Articles cited

The Baltimore Sun,,5927085.story

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