48 States & DC support lawsuit against Phelps

Next fall, the Supreme Court will hear the case against the Phelps family, brought by Al Snyder, the father of a marine killed in Iraq whose funeral they protested. The Phelps are asserting their First Amendment rights, which is rich since they’re so opposed to constitutional protections for all Americans. You may recall that Mr. Snyder was ordered to pay court costs after the Court of Appeals ruled against him.

Via Steve Rothaus, news that Attorneys General from almost every state in the nation support the father of the marine before the Supreme Court.

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have submitted a brief to the Supreme Court in support of a father who sued anti-gay protesters over their demonstration at the 2006 funeral of his son, a Marine killed in Iraq.

Only Virginia and Maine declined to sign the brief by the Kansas attorney general.

Albert Snyder sued over protests by the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church at his son’s funeral in Maryland. The church, founded by Fred Phelps in 1955, pickets funerals because they believe war deaths are punishment for U.S. tolerance of homosexuality.

The Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether the protesters’ message is protected by the First Amendment.

Virgnia’s AG is the rapidly right-wing/homophobic Ken Cuccinelli. He probably supports the Phelps. Not sure why Maine’s AG, Janet Mills, didn’t sign.

I posted the Amicus brief here. Here’s one of the three main arguments from the AGs:

this Court, as well as many lower courts, has recognized that targeted picketing — the Phelpses’ primary means of terrorizing mourners at a funeral — is a particularly intrusive and harassing form of speech.

People who terrorize are terrorists. That defines the Phelps.

The Snyder family’s website includes this clarification in its FAQ:

Please note: no one has protested private funerals or military funerals throughout all of known, recorded history. If the U.S. Supreme Court decides that a victim has a remedy if harassed at a funeral, the practical consequence is that Fred Phelps and the approximately 70 members of his so-called Westboro Baptist Church can no longer harass grieving families. Nothing will have changed for the rest of us because they are the only ones that have chosen to do this.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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