Dead Marines father ordered to pay protesters legal costs

#1
This really chaps my ass.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/30/westboro.baptist.snyder/index.html?hpt=T2


The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church says an order to pay the protesters' legal costs in a civil claim is nothing less than a "slap in the face."

"By the court making this decision, they're not only telling me that they're taking their side, but I have to pay them money to do this to more soldiers and their families," said Albert Snyder, whose son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.
I can't believe that they would overturn at the very least, an emotional distress award on this.
 
#2
:twisted: :twisted: :twisted:
 
#4
A pity one of your NRA members didn't get annoyed and indulge in a bit of "nutter culling"! :x :x
 
#5
ghost_us said:
I can't believe that they would overturn at the very least, an emotional distress award on this.
I don't think it is 'right' but I think it is entirely reasonable within the context of US First Amendment Rights. I can't remember who the quote is from but it goes something like "It is easily to believe in 'free speech' when you agree with the speaker. The real test is when you disagree."

I think that Phelps is a walking, talking invitation to a punch in his bigoted mouth but, as the spawn of the evil toad said, the Synders sued ...

The Supreme Court may overturn the 4th Circuit appeal, we'll see.
 
#6
I thought this kind of thing only happened in our twisted legal system?
 
#7
Apparently, the supreme court of US will be reviewing this case. There have been situations where limits are placed upon first amendment 'rights' - and this may be such a case.

I've no problem with this eejits protesting - at least a block or two away from the funeral.
 
#8
This is one of the problems of living in a democratic society and a demonstration of where the law and peoples perception of their rights may clash. What should have happened is that the protester got arrested for a public order offense and given a caution. That would at least have got him off the street at the time. But hitting someone in that situation is an escalation to violence and the law must deal with that too. Of course the protester should have behaved with more respect and restraint, but that, presumably is a moral issue rather than a legal one. I'll be interested to see what the Supreme court makes of it.
 
#10
I'd suggest that the real problem with the entire episode was the size of the damages awarded in the original case. $10.9 million??? OK, it was reduced to $5 million or $7.9 million (depending on how you read it), but at those amounts the Church is fighting for it's existence and loses nothing by appealing.

Had the damages totalled a few hundred thousand, I'd wager that the Church would have stumped up and stopped involving itself in military funerals.

Now there's a legal precedent and funding, be prepared for more anguish - and more profit to be made by the legal profession.
 
#11
postman_twit said:
I thought this kind of thing only happened in our twisted legal system?
The American legal system is much worse. If you got tried over there then you'd get down on you knees and beg to be taken to the worst of Britains courtrooms.
 
#12
Freedom of speech shouldn't give one the right to protest at a military funeral, these religious nutters are the Christian equivalent of the twats who wanted to protest at WB.

I hope the 4th circuit appeal wins and bankrupts the God bothering cnuts!
 
#13
putteesinmyhands said:
Had the damages totalled a few hundred thousand, I'd wager that the Church would have stumped up and stopped involving itself in military funerals.
This is the Westboro Baptist Church we are talking about - you've just described a common-sense pragmatic approach - two virtues they are noticeably short of.

Now there's a legal precedent and funding, be prepared for more anguish - and more profit to be made by the legal profession.
There's plenty of 1st Amendment precedent in the US and very little state funding for law suits. Remember, it was the family that sued and, on appeal, have lost. If this was the UK, then your predicted avalanche of strife would be much more reasonable.

InVinoVeritas said:
Freedom of speech shouldn't give one the right to protest at a military funeral, these religious nutters are the Christian equivalent of the twats who wanted to protest at WB.

I hope the 4th circuit appeal wins and bankrupts the God bothering cnuts!
While appreciating, even applauding, your intent, I think there is very little chance. This hits the "free expression of religion" as well as the "freedom of speech" clauses in the 1st Amendment. The next appeal is to the US Supreme Court - I wouldn't hold out much hope of it being successful there.
 
#14
It could be successful if the Supreme Court decides that the protesters do not have a First Amendment right to use hate speech against homosexuals at a private funeral service. However, that would seem a long shot.
 
#15
InVinoVeritas said:
Freedom of speech shouldn't give one the right to protest at a military funeral, these religious nutters are the Christian equivalent of the twats who wanted to protest at WB.

I hope the 4th circuit appeal wins and bankrupts the God bothering cnuts!
Why not, are you saying that we should only have freedom of speech if we agree with it. How would you like me to take away your right because I don't agree with it?
 
#16
A couple of points here:

1. As noted, the issue is now pending before our Supreme Court so I suppose we will all find out in due course which way this will go.

2. This "church" is not affiliated with any recognized denomination and is comprised largely of family members of its founder so I do not think it approriate to generalize from this group a condemnation of all Christian churches. Using one widely accepted "test" for cults, this church meets all criteria:

By “cult” we refer to psychologically manipulative groups that may be religious or nonreligious (e.g., psychotherapy, political, or commercial). More specifically, a cult can be defined as a group or movement that, to a significant degree,

(a) exhibits great or excessive devotion or dedication to some leadership, idea, or thing, (b) uses a thought reform program to persuade, control, and socialize members, (c) systematically induces states of psychological dependency in members, (d) exploits members to advance the leadership’s goals, and (e) causes psychological harm to members, their families, and the community.


3. While I have attended a number of military funerals as the ranking retired member in my rural area that have been picketed by this group and thus have seen their despicable actions first hand, my own view is that if our Constitutional right of free speech and expression is to mean anything, it must protect these people, as reprehensible as they may be.

There are narrow exceptions to this right, such as the famous example cited by the Supreme Court of yelling fire in a crowded theater merely to cause panic, obscenity and so-called "fighting words" or threats that could result in breaches of the peace. As to the latter, while many of us might be tempted to assault these people for their actions, as far as I know they have been careful to avoid crossing the line in terms of the kinds of speech that the Supreme Court has said is not protected. It could be, however, that the Court will regard the overall circumstances of a funeral etc. as creating an atmosphere that could be argued threatens a breach of the peace even though their words per se may not rise to that level.

In any event, until the Court clarifies the matter, this group's speech (assuming it continues like it has in the past) should be protected, as distasteful as that may be to some. This is the point of the rule of law based on principle not circumstance--when we start applying the law on the latter basis it will be the beginning of the end of free speech since once the precedent is set for stifling speech that one group does not "like," then we are at the mercy of whoever happens to be in power at the time as to how that is to be interpreted.
 
#17
barrett said:
hate speech
Perhaps but the whole notion of "hate speech" is too subjective and opens a barn door to abuse by the government. The best remedy for any kind of speech that is offensive (except in the narrow exceptions traditionally allowed by the Supreme Court) is more speech to challenge and refute the offensive speech. "Hate" speech advocates are usually seeking special restrictions based on some personal agenda and are not basing their demand on principle. We have seen in the history of various totalitarian regimes how this approach can be perverted at the whim of those in power to suppress speech.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#18
I've heard that the Phelps have a large 'collection' of machine guns, anti tank weapons and grenades at their 'fortress/church'. Has anyone told the ATF?

I don't like what you say, but I'll defend your right to say it. Its actually a tribute to American society that nobody has shot these whakos yet. What a pity they don't direct their morale outrage at South American drug cartels.
 
#19
I fear I must concur with JJH. Our freedom of speech protections are so important to our liberties that we must accept speech some would consider hurtful. This philosophy precludes things like the police investigating an MP who says he is uncomfortable with burka wearing visitors to his office and similar issues that arise in the UK where freedom of speech does not enjoy the same legal protection.

I do feel that it is possible to legislate against actions conducive to a breach of the peace and one could certainly consider protests at funerals to be such an activity. Such a law would have to cover all funerals (military, civilian, religious, secular etc ) The rule in the US as to laws affecting religion is known as the "Lemon Test" (Lemon v Kurzman, 403 U.S. 602) which holds:
The government's action must have a secular legislative purpose;
The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;
The government's action must not result in an "excessive government entanglement" with religion.

Such a law could keep Rev Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church a set distance from the funeral but permit him to practice his rather perverse religion at a distance. Note for UK readers. Rev Phelp's church has nothing to do with the mainstream Baptist church in the US, which is a protestant church with lots of very nice members.

Note for JJH, I now have to go re-read Grendel's Den v. Larkin (459 U.S. 116 (1982)) which had some dicta relating to this sort of issue, IIRC. It has been a while since I lost that one in SC 8 to 1 (Mr Justice Rehnquist, God bless him! dissenting)
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
In the UK I believe it is against the law to cause harrassment, alarm or distress, but I am sure our highly politicised senior police officers would avoid doing anything to upset a non-violent left-wing protest, any more than they would do anything about travellers defecating on public land etc. Some animals are more equal than others in our Socialist slave state.
 

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