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Monday, March 08, 2010

Westboro Baptist goes to SCOTUS

The Supreme Court today granted cert in a case arising from the obnoxious military-funeral-protest practices of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church. Albert Snyder, whose son was killed in Iraq, sued the Church, Phelps, and several of Phelps' family members for intentional infliction, based on signs displayed at the son's funeral and information posted on the Church website. Snyder won a $ 10.9 million verdict (remitted to $ 5 million), which the Fourth Circuit reversed, finding the Church's expression protected under Hustler v. Falwell.

I am curious (and a bit nervous) about the cert grant here. This was sort of a one-off case (no one else has tried to bring tort claims against Phelps and Co.) and the Court rarely grants cert to affirm a one-off case. I hope this case does not become an opportunity to further limit the scope of public-space expression.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on March 8, 2010 at 12:51 PM in Constitutional thoughts, Current Affairs, First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink

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Comments

Anyone interested in this should check out Chris Wells' article, Privacy & Funeral Protests, 87 NORTH CAROLINA LAW REVIEW 101 (2008).

Posted by: lyrissa | Mar 8, 2010 8:28:53 PM

Really SCOTUS?? Of all the stupid things you've done lately what with Citizens United and all and then you go and do this? There's a real brain trust there. Kansas's judicial influence must be spreading: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/02/22/if-you-dont-shoot-your-attacker-in-kansas-then-waive-bye-bye-to-claiming-self-defense/

Posted by: Stan Hooper | Mar 9, 2010 7:29:06 AM

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