Held: The First Amendment shields Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case.Who says the Supremes can't get along. And, the position was for free speech and the First Amendment.
ROBERTS, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, GINSBURG, BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion. ALITO, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Let us not kid ourselves. The actions of the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church are beneath contempt. Supreme Court Justice Alito put it well in the opening part of his dissent.
Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.But, at the end of the day the eight were right.
Petitioner Albert Snyder is not a public figure. He is simply a parent whose son, Marine Lance Corporal Mat-thew Snyder, was killed in Iraq. Mr. Snyder wanted what is surely the right of any parent who experiences such an incalculable loss: to bury his son in peace. But respondents, members of the Westboro Baptist Church, deprived him of that elementary right. They first issued a press release and thus turned Matthew’s funeral into a tumultuous media event. They then appeared at the church, approached as closely as they could without trespassing, and launched a malevolent verbal attack on Matthew and his family at a time of acute emotional vulnerability. As a result, Albert Snyder suffered severe and lasting emotional injury. The Court now holds that the First Amendment protected respondents’ right to brutalize Mr. Snyder.
Regards — Cliff