Wednesday, March 2, 2011

More quotes from the SCOTUS ruling on Westboro Baptist Church

I find this section interesting:
Westboro’s choice to convey its views in conjunction with
Matthew Snyder’s funeral made the expression of those
views particularly hurtful to many, especially to Matthew’s father. The record makes clear that the applicable
legal term—“emotional distress”—fails to capture fully the
anguish Westboro’s choice added to Mr. Snyder’s already
incalculable grief. But Westboro conducted its picketing
peacefully on matters of public concern at a public place
adjacent to a public street. Such space occupies a “special
position in terms of First Amendment protection.”


Simply put, the church members had the right to be
where they were. Westboro alerted local authorities to its
funeral protest and fully complied with police guidance on
where the picketing could be staged. The picketing was
conducted under police supervision some 1,000 feet from
the church, out of the sight of those at the church. The
protest was not unruly; there was no shouting, profanity,
or violence.

The record confirms that any distress occasioned by
Westboro’s picketing turned on the content and viewpoint
of the message conveyed, rather than any interference
with the funeral itself. A group of parishioners standing
at the very spot where Westboro stood, holding signs that
said “God Bless America” and “God Loves You,” would not
have been subjected to liability. It was what Westboro
said that exposed it to tort damages.

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