“God Hates Fags” — the self-identified name of the Westboro Baptist Church — has just won in the U.S. Supreme Court over a first amendment free speech fight to picket outside military funerals. In a rare 8-1 decision, (Justice Alito dissented,) the Court upheld a lower court ruling that tossed a judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued the Westboro Baptist Church after they had picketed his son’s military funeral. God Hates Fags, a hate group, pickets using signs that often read, “God hates fags,” “Thank God for 9/11,” “Thank God for AIDS,” and “U R going to hell.”
In the case, Snyder v. Phelps, “the justices were unanimous in their disgust for the Phelps, but concerned about punishing their speech. Justice Elena Kagan wondered if a ruling against the Phelps would require that signs at demonstrations be pre-approved,” according to Doug Gibson of the Standard-Examiner.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said, “Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and– as it did here– inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.
The God Hates Fags Church most recently has been in the news after their public Internet-baed battle with the “hactivist” (Internet hacker) group, Anonymous. Anonymous took down Westboro’s Internet websites over one week ago. They have yet to be restored.
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