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By Mark Davis
The nation founders, the Lone Star State thrives
Topic - Matthew Snyder
I'm with Samuel A. Alito Jr. - at least in spirit. The associate justice was alone in his dissent in Snyder v. Phelps, in which the U.S. Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling on Wednesday voided a damage verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church for picketing a Maryland soldier's funeral. You know the Westboro folks. They're the media darlings from Topeka, Kan., who have picketed nearly 600 funerals. The Rev. Fred Phelps and his family brandish signs, the most famous of which is "God Hates Fags." Lately, they've been picketing military funerals with signs such as "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," saying they got what they deserve because America tolerates homosexuality.
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals.
The Supreme Court ruled decisively Wednesday that a fringe anti-gay group has a constitutionally protected right to stage hateful protests at the funerals of dead soldiers, saying "such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt."
The Snyder family funeral procession came within 200 to 300 feet of the Phelps bunch, and Mr. Snyder said he saw the tops of the signs.
But, he added, a peaceful protest in a public space on public issues occupies a "special position in terms of First Amendment protection."