The United States Supreme Court ruled this morning that groups like Westboro Baptist Church, an anti-gay/anti-logic bunch of twerps known for protesting the funerals of soldiers killed overseas, are protected under the First Amendment, regardless of how disgusting their message may be.
You may recall, these are the same attention whores who planned to protest the funeral of Christina Taylor-Green, the 9-year-old girl killed during the January 8 shooting rampage in Tucson.
The court reportedly ruled 8-1 to throw out an $11 million lawsuit awarded to Albert Snyder, a Maryland man whose son, a soldier, was killed in Iraq. The group protested Snyder's son's funeral by carrying signs with garbage like, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "God Hates Fags" written on them.
In the court's ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts writes that the First Amendment shields speech and protests on "matters of public import on public property [conducted] in a peaceful manner and in full compliance with local officials...
"On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker. As a nation we have chosen a different course -- to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case."
Following the Tucson shooting, New Times spoke with Shirley Phelps-Roper, a leader with the group. At the time, she and others were in the early stages of planning a "God on the Corner" demonstration -- a play on the "Congress on the Corner" event held by Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords the day of the shooting -- in protest of the "rotten rebels" she claims are destroying America.
"I'm over here laughing," a rambling and often-incoherent Phelps-Roper said. "You think you can run God off the corner with your stupid laws?"
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"She has the audacity to stand on the corner and talk about free speech? She should keep her lips off the Constitution," Phelps-Roper says, "and now she will keep her lips off it."
Pretty despicable stuff, right?. However, the First Amendment is the the First Amendment, and it applies to the Westboro nitwits the same way it does the rest of us.