Supreme Court rules – correctly, sadly – in favor of Westboro nuts

From the AP:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects fundamentalist church members who mount attention-getting, anti-gay protests outside military funerals.

The court voted 8-1 in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan. The decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the father of a dead Marine who sued church members after they picketed his son’s funeral.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for the court. Justice Samuel Alito dissented.

“What Westboro said, in the whole context of how and where it chose to say it, is entitled to ’special protection’ under the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote, “and that protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous.”

As despicable as those “church members” might be, I don’t know how the court could have ruled otherwise. Tolerating the rantings of hateful fools is part of the price we pay for free speech.

– Jay Bookman

673 comments Add your comment

Normal

March 2nd, 2011
10:46 am

Yeah Jay, you just can’t legislate bad manners anymore than you can legislate Gods Word….

George W

March 2nd, 2011
10:47 am

Crazy Crazy Crazy……the people of Westboro need to protest that church.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
10:47 am

I’m gonna have to look for Alito’s dissent. That should be a fun read.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
10:48 am

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. (not voltaire)

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
10:48 am

“Tolerating the rantings of hateful fools is part of the price we pay for free speech.”

Yeap, we see it here every day.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
10:49 am

Normal – bad manners?

these people take “distasteful” to a whole new level.

Belinda

March 2nd, 2011
10:50 am

You’re right, Jay. The Supreme Court’s ruling is correct. We just have to put social pressure on these nutcases.

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
10:51 am

“these people take “distasteful” to a whole new level”

And Christianity also

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
10:52 am

“We just have to put social pressure on these nutcases.”

Belinda – check this out:
http://www.patriotguard.org/

Hillbilly Deluxe

March 2nd, 2011
10:52 am

If these people showed up at a funeral of one of my family members, me or them one would get our ass whipped, and I wouldn’t really care what the law said. Funerals are private events.

0311/0317 - 1811/1801

March 2nd, 2011
10:53 am

“Tolerating the rantings of hateful fools is part of the price we pay for free speech.”

Jay ……… you are correct. In addition, a group 10 times their size has the right to stand between them and the funeral, block their view and “drown them out”.

By th way:

Tolerating the abuse of weapons by idiots and criminals is the price we pay for the 2nd Amendment.

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
10:54 am

“Funerals are private events”

yes, they are…but this ruling does not give them blanket approval to disrupt a funeral being held on private property. To the best of my knowledge, they would still have to confine themselves to public property for their protest

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
10:54 am

Doggone,

I’ve seen those dudes (and dudettes) riding through my town when a local boy got brought home from Iraq. It was an impressive showing.

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
10:57 am

“It was an impressive showing”

It is indeed. I have a friend who is a Patriot Guard and those people will drop just about EVERYTHING to attend and help guard a funeral

Paul

March 2nd, 2011
10:57 am

Gut-wrenchingly correct.

Maybe some gay groups or those over-the-top NYC gay pride parade types could get a permit and conduct a little love-in on public property in front of the Westboro church?

jm

March 2nd, 2011
10:57 am

Not a surprise. These people suck. I guess counter protests are the only solution….

meanwhile, our 1,700,000 million deficit keeps adding to our national debt.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
10:59 am

If these people showed up at a funeral of one of my family members, me or them one would get our ass whipped, and I wouldn’t really care what the law said. Funerals are private events.

Sounds like the 1st Amendment needs to be amended to include the right to hand out cans of whoop ass….. :)

jm

March 2nd, 2011
10:59 am

how about a pat on the back for Boehner. Some bipartisan compromise considering how many Dems voted for the CR!

Agencies will be kept operating under a two-week funding bill that sailed through the House on a 335-91 vote Tuesday and is all but certain to pass in the Senate on Wednesday.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50444.html#ixzz1FSU0EiaL

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:00 am

Maybe some gay groups or those over-the-top NYC gay pride parade types could get a permit and conduct a little love-in on public property in front of the Westboro church?

I would buy a ticket to see that live!!!!!!

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:01 am

ooooooooooooh. Now Obama thinks the US government actually needs a budget for the rest of the year. What a dumarse

White House chief of staff Bill Daley and the president were involved in phone calls Tuesday. Daley spoke with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), and Obama had a call with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier that morning. But the Republican readout from those calls is that the administration paid a price for not being engaged sooner and for offering too little, too late.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50444.html#ixzz1FSUdn6cO

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:01 am

Southern…….as would I…

@@

March 2nd, 2011
11:02 am

Freedom of speech is freedom of speech. There can be no limitations regardless.

Now USinUK can join them in their protests:

“And God has smitten Jews with a certain unique madness … Jews, thus perverted, out of all proportion to their numbers energize the militant sodomite agenda… Jews are the real Nazis.”

They’ll die out sooner or later. Their membership remains the same…it’s all in the family. They’re outcasts among the mainstream religions. Farrakhan’s “Nation of Islam” is likely in agreement on the Jews though.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:02 am

“In addition, a group 10 times their size has the right to stand between them and the funeral, block their view and “drown them out”.”

oh, that they would “drown them out” with Village People songs …

unfortunately, that’s not particularly appropriate at a funeral, either …

md

March 2nd, 2011
11:03 am

“As despicable as those “church members” might be, I don’t know how the court could have ruled otherwise. Tolerating the rantings of hateful fools is part of the price we pay for free speech.”

Just as they had no other choice in Citizens United………..

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:03 am

@@ – awwwwwwwww … calling me anti-semitic?

how cute.

sorry. I meant how pathetic.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:04 am

“Sounds like the 1st Amendment needs to be amended to include the right to hand out cans of whoop ass”

In this case….indeed.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:04 am

“Maybe some gay groups or those over-the-top NYC gay pride parade types could get a permit and conduct a little love-in on public property in front of the Westboro church?”

reminds me of the time when Michael Moore organized a counterprotest to a Klan rally in Woodstock … he brought in a mariachi band …

classic!

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:06 am

Hey! Geithner gets something right! (maybe….)

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told lawmakers Tuesday Congress must proceed with housing finance reform legislation — including the winding down of government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — within the next two years or else risk another financial crisis.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50432.html#ixzz1FSVo6rB3

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:06 am

HI md! I was gonna tell you to come up here and play, but you made it!

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:06 am

Obama thinks leadership is a white paper. How funny. Obama doesn’t know the meaning of leadership…. 2012…. 2012…

Dave R.

March 2nd, 2011
11:08 am

I think some spike strips at the exits of Westboro Baptist on days they plan to protest would do the trick nicely.

Just sayin’ . . .

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:08 am

Can somebody pay jm some attention? He’s on his daily “I don’t like Jay’s subject, so I’ll just bitch about Obama and blame everything that’s wrong in the world on him, or the Democrats, or liberals.”

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

I am actually surprised I thought Jay would be on the side of the church regarding this subject.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

Dave – spike strips are so … boring …

superballs!

banana peels!

cans of paint over the door!

use a little imagination!!!

Paul

March 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

Bosch

Okay.

jm

Dissolve Fannie/Freddie?!!? But… but…. that’s not socialism!!!!!!!!

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

George – um. he’s on the side of free speech.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:11 am

Thanks Paul, you’re a pal.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:11 am

Bosch – I’m fine with Jay’s subject. nothing much to discuss, frankly… so I’ve moved on.

Just enjoying pointing out the mistakes, errors, and problems Dems are having.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:12 am

fair take by Woodward.

Bob Woodward, the longtime chronicler of Washington’s inner workings, has a scathing assessment of Donald Rumsfeld’s new memoir, writing Tuesday morning that by “ducking and weaving and dodging responsibility” in the book, the former defense secretary has exemplified “much of what is worst in Washington.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/50427.html#ixzz1FSXM8Uq3

Dave R.

March 2nd, 2011
11:12 am

USinUK, yours are more fun . . .

. . . but mine are so much more permanent – and expensive! :D

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:13 am

Dave R.,

Or maybe we should have wild bands of clowns counter-protest the Westboro folks — that would be very scary.

Joe the Plutocrat

March 2nd, 2011
11:13 am

a bit abstract, but who was it that was commenting on ‘rights’ and the government’s role as ‘protector’? this ruling undescores the illusion that is the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. this whole charade (freedom) is a card trick designed anesthetise Americans with copious ‘rights’ and an all-knowing, all-powerful government, which will serve as arbiter and custodian of said rights. whatever happened to “fire in a movie house”? plutocracy in action.

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

USinUk….free speech is a wonderful thing, however there ARE limits to free speech.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

jm,

Of course you are because that’s what partisan hacks with no objective cognitive skills do.

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

George W

March 2nd, 2011
10:47 am
Crazy Crazy Crazy……the people of Westboro need to protest that church

GeorgeW, These Are YOUR People…You Know, Rightwingers, Pro-Lifers, Anti _______ (fill in the blank)

Fred

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

I’m surprised that at least one of them hasn’t been shot and killed yet.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

Dave – there’s no reason we can’t use both! :-)

(I knew there would be something we could agree on)

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

Just enjoying pointing out the mistakes, errors, and problems Dems are having.

Easy way to remedy that. Put both shoes on in the morning, and you won’t lean so far to the right all the time…….

ByteMe

March 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

The decision was 8-1. Anyone know why Alito hates the 1st Amendment?

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

Joe Cool…..totally not the case. Good try to spin the subject but the rightwingers are the ones who are trying to get this stopped. Please do more research before making an ignorant post. Typical left.

godless heathen

March 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

Don’t they have funerals at this Westboro Baptist? That would be the time to hit them with the Kenny G.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:16 am

George – well, you can’t threaten people’s lives … you can’t incite violence … you can’t create a panic …

but, unfortunately, you CAN be complete tossers (as Rev Phelps and his family of inbreds prove on a regular basis)

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:16 am

Folks, I guess White People aren’t Holder’s “people”. Just to be noted. I hate race issues, I think we should get past them. But the Black Panther thing never seems to die, and I think Holder is a cr-p AG.

Attorney General Eric Holder finally got fed up Tuesday with claims that the Justice Department went easy in a voting rights case against members of the New Black Panther Party because they are African American.

Holder’s frustration over the criticism became evident during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing as Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) accused the Justice Department of failing to cooperate with a Civil Rights Commission investigation into the handling of the 2008 incident in which Black Panthers in intimidating outfits and wielding a club stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia.

The Attorney General seemed to take personal offense at a comment Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.

“Think about that,” Holder said. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia—which was inappropriate, certainly that…to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people,” said Holder, who is black.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/joshgerstein/0311/Eric_Holder_Black_Panther_case_focus_demeans_my_people.html

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:16 am

godless – Kenny G???

VILLAGE PEOPLE!!

COMMUNARDS!!

or, at the very least, ABBA

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:17 am

ByteMe….do you feel this is a freedom of religion or a freedom of speech issue?

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:17 am

Anyone know why Alito hates the 1st Amendment?

From the tiny bit in the WaPo, I think Alito’s dissent was along the lines that they had gone too far in their expression of their rights.

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:18 am

USinUK….I agree.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:18 am

godless.

nope.

this.

this is the perfect song

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNd4eocq2K0

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:19 am

Its sad that the AG of the US thinks of the world as “our people” and “their people”, instead of everyone being the American people. Language matters. And his reveals a real bias.

Dave R.

March 2nd, 2011
11:19 am

“Dave – there’s no reason we can’t use both!

(I knew there would be something we could agree on)”

Throw in Bosch’s clowns, and we have a trifecta! :D

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

Dave – dangitall!! just when we have love, peace and harmony in Bookmanialand, you had to go and say the C-word when Bosch was in the room …

;-)

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

The Attorney General seemed to take personal offense at a comment Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.

I would take personal offense at that statement too, unless his career started in 2007. He might have a point then. Otherwise, he’d also make the point that Holder was following what Bush’s Justice Dept started.

godless heathen

March 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

Yes, Kenny G. No Mercy!!!

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

“Throw in Bosch’s clowns, and we have a trifecta!”

Pity the Patriot Guard doesn’t cross dress for their rides

Dave R.

March 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

USinUK,

MANILOW! :D

ByteMe

March 2nd, 2011
11:21 am

GW: it’s a freedom of speech issue.

And why does Roberts think it needs “special protection” when ordinary protection would have been fine?

Joe Cool

March 2nd, 2011
11:21 am

“Good try to spin the subject but the rightwingers are the ones who are trying to get this stopped”

No Spin….Do These People NOT Believe In What I Stated?
Are the Things Listed, NOT What You Righties Believe In?

Clearly, These Folks Are No Liberals

Sloppy Joe

March 2nd, 2011
11:22 am

I’m shocked that Alito dissented. Where did that come from?

Dave R.

March 2nd, 2011
11:22 am

USinUK, Bosch brought them up on page 1.

Don’t go layin’ the wood on me for that one!

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:22 am

<i.Its sad that the AG of the US thinks of the world as “our people” and “their people”, instead of everyone being the American people. Language matters. And his reveals a real bias.

No, what’s actually sad is that you portray Holder like he’s supposed to be a cyborg incapable of bias. Everyone of us thinks in terms of our people and their people. The only difference is what the terms “our” and “their” define. That’s human nature, and last time I checked, we’re still all 100% human.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:22 am

Kenny G and Manilow?

That’s like torture….

ByteMe

March 2nd, 2011
11:23 am

Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.

Maybe Culberson forgot to read in the part where Bull also tried to tie the Black Panthers case into ACORN registering “400,000 illegal immigrants”, which he has also claimed… with no evidence. Bull’s full of it, but the Fox & Friends crowd eat it up.

The Adventures of Huckabee Finn

March 2nd, 2011
11:23 am

This is another of those tough issues for a Republican, being torn between two lovers.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:24 am

It’s true USinUK, I did bring them up — as scary counters to these idiot Westboros — BRING IN THE CLOWNS!!!

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:24 am

Dave – 11:22 – I didn’t see that – in that case, you get a free pass :-D

but, what’s wrong with Manilow???

given their issues with Teh Ghey, I say we go as camp as we possibly can! Bette Midler! Village People! Depeche Mode! Bronski Beat! Judy Garland! SHOW TUNES!!!

carlosgvv

March 2nd, 2011
11:25 am

“Tolerating the rantings of hateful fools”

What these nuts are doing is the moral equivlent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre. With more and more states allowing more and more people to carry guns in public, it’s just a matter of time before these fools find themselves on the wrong end of a gun barrel. The Constitution does not allow unlimited free speech.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:25 am

“Culberson read in which former Democratic activist Bartle Bull called the incident the most serious act of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career.”

I dunno, I think this Culberson feller gets the Drama Queen tiara.

USinUK

March 2nd, 2011
11:26 am

Bosch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71W3xN7wYss

I’ll go ahead and apologize now.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:26 am

Or is it this Bull feller whose being all drama queen with ‘worst case of voter intimidation EVAH!!’?

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

“What these nuts are doing is the moral equivlent of yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre”

No, unfortunately it isn’t. A “crowded theater” is not public property. You can stand on the sidewalk and shout “fire” as often as you like.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

SoCo 11:22 – true, almost everyone has a certain amount of bias, whether they admit it or not.

But I’ll tell you, my bias, such as they are, goes nowhere close to thinking of the world in the terms: “my people – their people”

Nowhere f’in close. And to think the AG of our country thinks that way is beyond disappointing.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

USinUK,

Oh now my toes are all curled and my sphincters are squished tight!

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:28 am

Doggone….Really….Go into Time Square on a busy evening and start yelling bomb! See what happens to you. That is public property.

stands for decibels

March 2nd, 2011
11:28 am

If these people showed up at a funeral of one of my family members, me or them one would get our ass whipped, and I wouldn’t really care what the law said. Funerals are private events.

Thing is, I’m fairly sure that the Westboro clan welcomes such physical confrontations, because they’re well-equipped to sue anyone who attacks them (as virtually anyone would WANT to do when confronted by these freaks, of course.)

I think the Patriot Guard have the right idea, and I’m glad to see they’re still active.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:29 am

“But I’ll tell you, my bias, such as they are, goes nowhere close to thinking of the world in the terms: “my people – their people”

And I doubt Eric Holder does either, but good job of trying to take a word or two out of context and blow it out of proportion in a vain attempt to paint someone of a different mindset in a negative light. But then again, that’s what partisan hacks such as yourself seem to be best at.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:29 am

George W 11:28 – yeah, Doggone just makes it up as he goes

stands for decibels

March 2nd, 2011
11:30 am

“Think about that,” Holder said. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia—which was inappropriate, certainly that…to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people,” said Holder, who is black.

f–king A right.

and jm? just when I think you can’t scape any farther down the barrel of stuff to bitch about… well, you always seem to make an extra effort, each and every day.

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:32 am

Stands….you are right….that is not a race biased comment at ALL!!!

Doggone/GA

March 2nd, 2011
11:34 am

“Go into Time Square on a busy evening and start yelling bomb! See what happens to you. That is public property”

From what little I know of New York…the most likely result is that no one will even notice

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:34 am

George,

Glad you agree — cause actually it’s a “what kind of dumb ass are you saying what happened in Philly as the worst case of voter intimidation evah — when you have people who were freaking murdered back in the 60s” kind of comment.

Bosch

March 2nd, 2011
11:34 am

….and with that….I’m out for a while.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:35 am

Bosch, as always, trying to dodge reality and the truth. What’s lalaloopy land like?

“When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia—which was inappropriate, certainly that…to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for MY PEOPLE,”

No one stuck those words in his mouth. Look, I’ll grant him that, as a minority group that has been the victim of a brutal history of abuse and attacks, its ok to feel that way (to some extent). But the AG of the USofA should not be of that mindset. He should be fired.

Picture a white guy saying something (along the lines of): look, my English forebears couldn’t even practice their religion, so to compare a bunch of white people burning down a single church is nothing compared to what my forebears had to go through.

On its face, a ridiculous statement. As much as Holder’s. Racial progress depends on both sides moving toward a mindset of: hell, we’re all just people, who gives a flying sh-t what color we are.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:35 am

But I’ll tell you, my bias, such as they are, goes nowhere close to thinking of the world in the terms: “my people – their people”

Dude, if this were a soccer match, I’d have to hit you with a red card for that baloney. When you look at the world in terms of unionized workers i.e. “their” versus non-unionized i.e. “my”, you fit the mold perfectly. You may not express the terms my and their explicitly, but your logic/opinion shows your bias very clearly.

jconservative

March 2nd, 2011
11:36 am

From Justice Alito’s dissenting opinion:

“Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,…”

I agree with the Chief Justice and believe Alito is alarmingly wrong. He apparently believes it OK to dilute the 1st Amendment right of free speech.

“Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…”

Once again Alito is engaged in “legislating from the bench”, a habit he is getting more and more bold at doing.

We conservatives now are thinking putting him on the Court was a big mistake.

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:37 am

Bosch….haha you can never get going forward if you are always looking backwards. But keep up the good work. Makes our jobs that much easier.

Gale

March 2nd, 2011
11:37 am

I read recently that a group of “angels” as they called themselves, did get together at the site of one of the Westboro protests to create a counter to their protest. They stood silently – wearing wings- along the funeral route in front of the Westboro group, blocking them from view. More communities should do that.

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:39 am

We conservatives now are thinking putting him on the Court was a big mistake.

Hindsight is a mo’fo, ain’t it??? :)

Shoulda listened to those liberals who tried to warn y’all. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. ;)

George W

March 2nd, 2011
11:39 am

I do have a question for all of you dems that are on here supporting the first amendment. Where is your love for the second amendment? Why do you pick and choose?

Southern Comfort (aka The Man)

March 2nd, 2011
11:40 am

Gale

I think that was in Arizona after the shooting. I saw photos of the volunteers wearing their wings. That’s a great idea.

jm

March 2nd, 2011
11:40 am

SoCo 11:35 – I thought we were having a discussion about race, not about unions…. :)