The Supreme court today heard from Albert Snyder regarding his suit against the Westboro Baptist Church in which he claimed extreme emotional distress and was awarded a judgment of $11million that was then reduced to $5 million. The judgment was subsequently overturned by an appellate court, hence the appearance of both parties in front of the Supreme Court.
Please, if you would, read the AP story here, then we can discuss!
I find some of the Justices' comments interesting and more than a little surprising. For example...
"Alito led Phelps through a series of questions intended to get her to concede that there are instances in which people could file lawsuits like Snyder's, including an African-American who is subjected to a stream of racial hatred from someone who believes blacks are inherently inferior.
'That's a matter of public concern?' Alito asked.
Phelps wavered, saying that race is an issue of public concern, but that church members do not approach people 'to berate them.' She said the protest at the funeral had the permission of the police and involved only holding up signs."I have always sided with the 1st Amendment regarding the crazy kids down at the WBC and believed that, for all of their nuttiness, they've got a right to do what they do, but the Court might be wavering. Most surprising...
"Chief Justice John Roberts and Justives Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia appeared, to varying degrees, to be searching for a way to rule for Snyder."
The fact that conservatives such as Roberts and Scalia are leaning away from the church gives rise to the notion that the Court may, in fact, rule for Mr. Snyder, or at least send the case down for a retrial. Astonishing.
I did hear Mr. Snyder's attorney interviewed a few months back and he raised the idea of a "captive audience." What he meant by that was that because Mr. Snyder had to bury his son, and had to do so at a particular time and place, and that the WBC's actions were tantamount to entrapment. It was as if Mr. Snyder rights were violated as he was not given the choice to avoid the protest. He was, in essence, a captive audience.
It was an interesting argument. Anyway, the decision is expected until late spring.