SHOULD BE RULED A 'HATE CRIME'!!!!!

Discussion in 'VMBB Fire For Effect' started by rooter, Mar 3, 2011.

  1. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    March 2, 2011
    Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals

    By ADAM LIPTAK

    WASHINGTON — The First Amendment protects hateful protests at military funerals, the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday in an 8-to-1 decision.

    “Speech is powerful,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the majority. “It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain.”

    But under the First Amendment, he went on, “we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.” Instead, the national commitment to free speech, he said, requires protection of “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”

    The decision, from which Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. dissented, was the latest in a series of muscular First Amendment rulings from the Roberts court. Last year, the court struck down laws limiting speech about politics and making it a crime to distribute depictions of cruelty to animals.

    In the current term’s other major First Amendment case, the court seems likely, based on the justices’ questioning, to strike down a law banning the sale of violent video games to minors. Only the interest in national security has in the recent run of decisions been ruled substantial enough to overcome free-speech interests.

    Chief Justice Roberts used sweeping language culled from the First Amendment canon in setting out the central place free speech plays in the constitutional structure. “Debate on public issues should be robust, uninhibited and wide-open,” he wrote, because “speech on public issues occupies the highest rung of the hierarchy of First Amendment values.”

    The case decided Wednesday arose from a protest at the funeral of a Marine who had died in Iraq, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder. As they had at hundreds of other funerals, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., appeared with signs bearing messages like “America is Doomed” and “God Hates Fags.”

    The church contends that God is punishing the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality.

    The father of the fallen Marine, Albert Snyder, sued the protesters for, among other things, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and won a substantial jury award that was later overturned by an appeals court.

    Chief Justice Roberts wrote that two primary factors required a ruling in favor of the church. First, he said, its speech was on matters of public concern. While the messages on the signs carried by its members “may fall short of refined social or political commentary,” he wrote, “the issues they highlight — the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of our nation, homosexuality in the military and scandals involving the Catholic clergy — are matters of public import.”

    Second, the members of the church “had the right to be where they were.” They were picketing on a public street 1,000 feet from the site of the funeral; they complied with the law and with instructions from the police, and they protested quietly and without violence.

    “Any distress occasioned by Westboro’s picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message conveyed,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “rather than any interference with the funeral itself.”

    All of that means, the chief justice wrote, that the protesters’ speech “cannot be restricted simply because it is upsetting or arouses contempt.”

    Chief Justice Roberts suggested that a proper response to hurtful protests is general laws creating buffer zones around funerals and the like, rather than empowering juries to punish unpopular speech. Maryland, where the protest took place, now has such a law, as do, the chief justice said, 43 other states and the federal government.

    In his dissent, Justice Alito said such laws offer insufficient protection. “The verbal attacks that severely wounded petitioner in this case,” he wrote, “complied with the new Maryland law regulating funeral picketing.”

    The majority opinion acknowledged that “Westboro’s choice added to Mr. Snyder’s already incalculable grief” and emphasized that the ruling was narrow and limited to the kinds of protests staged by the church.

    But the language of the opinion was sweeping.

    “Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible,” Chief Justice Roberts concluded. “But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials.”

    Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the majority opinion but wrote separately to say that other sorts of speech, including television broadcasts and Internet postings, might warrant different treatment.

    The case initially did concern not only public protests but also an Internet posting created by the church group that denounced the Snyders by name. But Chief Justice Roberts said the Snyders had failed to pursue their arguments concerning the posting in the Supreme Court and so it “does not factor in our analysis.”

    The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 21 news organizations, including The New York Times Company, filed a brief supporting the church.

    “To silence a fringe messenger because of the distastefulness of the message,” the brief said, “is antithetical to the First Amendment’s most basic precepts.”

    In his dissent, Justice Alito likened the protest to fighting words, which are not protected by the First Amendment. “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate,” Justice Alito wrote, “is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.”

    Justice Alito was also the lone dissenter in United States v. Stevens, last year’s decision striking down a ban on videos and other depictions of animal cruelty.

    In Wednesday’s decision, Snyder v. Phelps, No. 09-751, Justice Alito wrote that the Westboro church may speak out in many ways in many places and should not be allowed to capitalize on the private grief of others.

    “In order to have a society in which public issues can be openly and vigorously debated,” he wrote, “it is not necessary to allow the brutalization of innocent victims.”
  2. jlloyd73

    jlloyd73 New Member

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    Even "free speech" should have some common sense applied to it. Too many groups use it to the extreme now. It would be different if they were protesting homosexuals at a homosexual event.......but to somehow tie it into a soldiers burial?????? It is so shameful......embarrassing that it is being allowed.
  3. carver

    carver Moderator

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    Luke 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

    As far as I'm concerned your rights stop when they step on mine!
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2011
  4. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    I don't think there's too many folks out there who are more outraged than me about what those 'protesters' did than I am, but - and I'm chokeing on this as I write it - those Yay-Hoos were within their right to do the despicable thing they did.

    There was an old poster that a History teacher in High School showed the class that I remember very well. It was from the French Revolution, and depicted an old man in tattered clothes, and the caption was "I despise what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it".

    Having said that, if I were there I'd likely have ended up in the Pokey for smashing one of them in the face. It may have been legal, but it certainly was not right. The Good Lord will judge them in His own time. Chief, I agree that this should be ruled a "Hate Crime", but it isn't ruled that way yet so they have the right to do the wrong thing.
  5. army mp

    army mp Member

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    Very sad day for all true Americans, I can not put in words how despicable the acts of this so called Church are.
  6. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    The Supreme Court heard arguments on Wednesday in Snyder v. Phelps, which involves a lawsuit filed by Albert Snyder, the father of a dead marine against a small church in Kansas. The church members picketed the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, and put up a Web page about him to spread their message that God is punishing the United States for tolerating homosexuality by killing its soldiers.

    Albert Snyder won an $11 million jury verdict against the pastor and the church for intentional infliction of emotional distress and invasion of privacy. But a federal appeals court overturned the verdict on First Amendment grounds.

    Should states be allowed to protect private individuals from intentional infliction of emotional distress when it occurs in the form of speech? Does the First Amendment bar such private law suits? What nuances should be considered by the Supreme Court?

    PS: I heard Bill O'Reilly say on 3/2/11 that he would foot all of the Snyder's legal expenses while this case was being fought in the courts....Chief
  7. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    Chief, I'm hearing you and agree with most of what you say. I think you know that I'd stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you to defend our country and our flag (we are both combat veterans).

    The thing that seperates us is maybe this: These scumbags, even though what they did and are doing is despicable, are acting very closely within the lines of what our Conststitution allows them to do.

    I feel great sadness not only for the loss that this Marine's family suffered, but the loss of a brother in arms who died for all of us. If you ever wore the uniform, or pledged your alliagence to our nobel flag, this Marine is your brother.

    But these worthless scum who dishonor themselves are protected under the very Constitution that we swore an oath to defend. What they do is immoral, but not unlawful. I would be breaking the law by breaking one of their worthless bones, but our Nation is bound to let them do these things.

    If we let our Courts punish them for their actions, what next? Maybe they could arrest us if we disagree with the President or Congress openly? Who would then determine just what any of us could say, or just what would be allowable for us to protest against?

    Let these rats protest. BUT, make sure that the family is protected from their vile actions. Our leaders should enact (and enforce - Mr. Holder) reasonable protections. If then they get close enough - or loud enough - to infrindge on the grieving family's sacred act of burrial, I say jail each and every one.
  8. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*

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    Of course Jim, you are making perfect sense. I think there are some things so loathsome to my fellow Americans that consideration ought to be offered up in certain matters that are beyond the pale....Burning the cross....desacrating our national ensign, marking swaziksas (SP) on holy buildings, yelling FIRE in a crowded theater or discussing bombs on airplanes...Oh yes Jim, I'm just rambling now for there must be some types of solutions to these problems...Chief
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