The Supreme Court ruled 8-1, in favor of Westboro Baptist Church, holding that the church has a constitutionally protected right to protest at military funerals.
Albert Snyder filed a lawsuit against the church for emotional distress when church members protested at his deceased son’s funeral who died in Iraq in 2006. Church members held up provocative signs, some of which read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “Fags Doom Nations.”
The Court held that church members have the right to express themselves under the free speech clause of the Constitution. Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority stated that as a nation, the United States has chosen a course that “protects even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”
Constitutionally speaking, protesting at funerals may be permissible but it is undoubtedly insensitive and hurtful to those families who are grieving for the loss of a loved one. It is ironic because the soldier died fighting for this nation’s security and freedom, that freedom is what gives Church members the right to voice their opinion and engage in this type of protest in the first place.