Supreme Court Rules Westboro Church Protests Protected Speech

(Washington, DC)  --  The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled protests of military funerals by the Westboro Baptist Church are protected under the law.

Eight of the court's justices ruled in favor of the church, with Justice Samuel Alito being the sole dissenter.

Members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, have picketed hundreds of funerals with signs that say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Fags Doom Nations." 

They claim the deaths of soldiers are God's punishment for America's acceptance of homosexuality.

The high court's decision stemmed from the protest of the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder in Maryland.

Snyder's father filed a lawsuit against the church claiming emotional anguish.

A jury found Westboro liable for nearly three-million-dollars in compensatory damages and eight-million-dollars in punitive damages.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said Westboro's protests are protected by the First Amendment.

He wrote, quote, "such speech cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt."  He added "Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro."

Justice Alito dissented with the opinion, saying the First Amendment "is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case."

(Copyright 2011 by VERTEXNews/Newsroom Solutions)
(video report:  FOX News)

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