- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
Supreme Court looks at military funeral protests
Question of the Day
YORK, Pa. (AP) — One thing Al Snyder wants to make clear: His boy fought and died for freedom in Iraq, but not for the right of some “wackos” to spew hate at soldiers’ funerals under the protection of the Constitution.
“It’s an insult to myself, my family and the veterans to say this is what our military men and women died for,” Mr. Snyder says, barely concealing his anger.
The court is set to decide whether members of a fundamentalist church in Kansas who picketed Matthew’s funeral with signs bearing anti-gay and anti-Catholic invective have a constitutional right to say what they want.
Or, in intruding on a private citizen’s funeral in a hurtful way, have the protesters crossed a line and given Mr. Snyder the right to collect millions of dollars for the emotional pain they caused?
The justices will hear arguments in the case next Wednesday.
The case is shaping up as a potentially important test of the First Amendment. “The difficulty in this case is that the speech occurs at the most personal and sensitive of times,” said Cliff Sloan, a First Amendment expert at the Skadden, Arps law firm and the former publisher of Slate magazine.
Margie Phelps, a daughter of the Rev. Fred Phelps, the pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, and the lawyer representing her family members at the Supreme Court, said that if the justices reinstate the $5 million judgment to Mr. Snyder, anyone who says anything upsetting to a mourner “is subject to a crushing penalty.”
But Mr. Snyder said in an interview with the Associated Press that if he had the chance, he would tell the justices “that this isn’t a case of free speech. It’s case of harassment.”
Mr. Snyder’s nightmare began on a late winter night in 2006 when he flipped on the porch light and saw two uniformed Marines standing at the front door of his home in this small south central Pennsylvania city.
He knew right away that Matthew was dead, after just five weeks in Iraq.
He could accept his son’s death because Matthew always wanted to be a soldier.
But Mr. Snyder was not prepared for what came next.
Eleven hundred miles away, in Topeka, Kan., Mr. Phelps and other family members who make up most of the Westboro Baptist Church decided that Mr. Snyder’s funeral at a Catholic church in Westminster, Md., would be their next stop.
Mr. Phelps and his small band of followers have picketed many military funerals in their quest to draw attention to their incendiary view that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God’s punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- Algerian plane diverted due to storms, second aircraft: 116 missing
- ISIL captured 52 U.S.-made howitzers; artillery weapons cost 500K each
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq