“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.” – Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals
Fundamentalist fanatics preening they speak for God are the embodiment of everything wrong with religion, proving that most proselytizers know less about being holy than your average five year-old.
“I very much appreciate the fact that I get to be the mouth of God in this matter,” she told reporters.
That’s Margie J. Phelps, daughter of church leader Fred Phelps and legal counsel for the group who won in the Supreme Court today. Her delusion is topped only by her profound arrogance that “the mouth of God” is remotely tied to anything as negative as causing more suffering to people who have lost a loved one. Fred Phelps and his people remain prime examples of un-Christian, inhumane behavior and the most reprehensible example of spirituality to ever get the megaphone of the First Amendment.
However, the Supreme Court got it right by protecting the speech of this despicable woman and the followers of this movement. In an 8-1 verdict, the court sent a powerful message, with Justice Alito dissenting, for which he should be ashamed.
At present, 44 states have laws creating buffer zones around funerals, which is the recourse and responsibility of legislatures to enact.
It’s comforting to know that the Supreme Court can at least get something as fundamental as protecting the First Amendment correct. After the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case you had to wonder.