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Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Westboro Baptist Church

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Westboro Baptist Church

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that members of the Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for their incendiary antigay demonstrations, are protected under the First Amendment in protesting military funerals. In an 8-1 ruling issued Wednesday, the court found in Snyder v. Phelps that the church's 2006 protest of the funeral of a soldier who was killed in Iraq did not disrupt the service, and that Westboro "addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials."

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that members of the Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for their incendiary antigay demonstrations, are protected under the First Amendment in protesting military funerals.  

In an 8-1 ruling issued Wednesday, the court found in Snyder v. Phelps that the church's 2006 protest of the funeral of a soldier who was killed in Iraq did not disrupt the service, and that Westboro "addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials."

"Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion. "On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker."

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote, "Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case."

Story developing.

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