April 6, 2011
In March, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Westboro Baptist Church’s right to gather and picket outside the military funeral for Matthew Snyder, a marine killed in the line of duty. The WBC, well known for its belief that God punishes the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, waved signs with slogans such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “God Hates You.”
The March 2 ruling overturned a previous court’s decision on the grounds that the First Amendment protected the WBC picketing. It was a decision that raised many questions regarding free speech. However, one question seems to rise above the rest: When has the protection of free speech gone too far?
In the case of the WBC, an organization that for the past 20 years has used the death of soldiers as a platform to spread its fundamentalist views, the question is a tough one. The congregation and its leaders have taken great measures to operate within the realm of American law, but many would say the use of a family’s grief to further a cause is grounds enough to merit some form of punishment. Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion in the…» Read More