I must admit, that when the case of the Pastor Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church was argued before the Supreme Court I hoped that the court would uphold the civil judgment against them; however, upon reading a summary of the opinion, I must conclude the Court was right and I was wrong!
The actions of the Westboro Baptist Church are horrible, they seek to make a public spectacle out of the most tragic moment in a families life, the burial of their son or daughter, husband or wife, killed in combat in either Iraq or Afghanistan. But it would also be just as bad for our nation to chill the right of free expression by allowing Civil Judgments to be levied by the courts because the aggrieved party feeling were hurt. If that was the case how many of us would write blogs?
First Amendment jurisprudence and in particular, Freedom of Speech cases are fascinating as over the years they have created much debate. Should Nazi’s be forbidden to march in Skokie Illinois because it might offend the Jewish residents of that city; the court said no—that regardless of how hateful their speech and message is denying them the right to express themselves and to assemble makes a mockery of our rights and freedoms.
The men and women whose funerals the Phelps and their ilk disrupt died protecting the freedoms of all Americans, including the Phelps regardless of how repugnant their message is to our sensibilities as a nation.