Main | Friday, October 26, 2007

Dad Of Dead G.I. Sues Fred Phelps,
First Amendent Cringes

In a case that will test the limits of the First Amendment, the father of a slain U.S. soldier is suing Fred Phelp's Westboro Baptist Church for picketing his son's funeral, charging the church with invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

From the New York Times:

Judge Richard D. Bennett, who is hearing the case, told the nine jurors that there are limits on free speech protection, listing categories that include vulgar, offensive and shocking statements, and instructed jurors to decide “whether the defendant’s actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous, and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection."
From the Hanover Evening-Sun:
Phelps said he chose to use the term "fag" in the group's signs because it comes from scripture but could also have used Sodomite or dog. When asked by Katz why the group made a "Semper Fi Fags" sign, Phelps said it was in response to the need for a warning to the country "that your wicked ways are going to be your doom shortly."
Following her father on the stand, Phelp's daughter, Shirley Phelps-Frankenchrist refused to apologize for protesting the funeral and said, "We preach to the living to connect the dots to the parents of the dead child. He’s fighting for a nation who has made God a No. 1 enemy." A scholar at Washington DC's First Amendment Center said, "The dangerous principle here is runaway liability in a way that would put the First Amendment in serious jeopardy. I dread to think what it would do to political protests in this country if it were allowed the win."

I think I know what the ACLU will say on this. Opinions?

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