LOS ANGELES (LALATE) – Westboro Baptist Church headed by Fred Phelps have won the Supreme court case of Snyder v. Phelps. The Snyder v. Phelps case concerned the Matthew Snyder funereal of 2006. Since that funeral, Westboro Baptist Church and Fred Phelps have battled not just in the courts but also in legislation.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Phelps.
On October 6, 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Snyder v. Phelps. Fred Phelps is a fundamentalist pastor who preaches anti-gay messages, Matthew Snyder was a Marine Corps lance corporal killed in 2006. Westboro Baptist Church was founded in 1955 and preaches according to USA Today “that God hates gay people”. Snyder was not gay. His funeral was set for rural Maryland. The paper claimed that Westboro members “comb media reports … for news of military funerals.”
Church members went to protest Snyder’s funeral and the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. They later posted a video.
Snyder’s family sued for damages based on the emotional distress; the jury awarded them $10 million, the judge reduced it to $5 million. The 4th Circuit reversed, ruling “As utterly distasteful as these signs are they involve matters of public concern, including the issue of gays in the military, … and the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens” Justice Elena Kagan said in oral arguments.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr today wrote that the speech “is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible [but government] cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”