48 States to File “Friend of the Court” Brief to Supreme Court Case Against Westboro Baptist

Jun 1, 2010 · 1985 views

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Forty eight states and the District of Columbia signed an “friend of the court” brief to a pending Supreme Court case to prohibit the anti-gay Westboro Baptists from protesting near funerals.

So who do you think will win? Should funerals proceedings override our right to the free expression of ideas?


  1. Chickengirl says:

    well I hope that law passes…because protesting at a person’s funeral, no matter what kind of person they were is just fucked up…its abusing the 1rst amendment by protesting at the funerals, just because that law is set in place and you have the right to do it, dosen’t mean you should go around saying whatever you want, especially doing fucked up shit like protesting at a funeral.

  2. Prohibiting any Constitutional right to protest can set a dangerous precedent. What about protesting against the death penalty outside a prison while a serial killer is being executed ? Where do you draw the line? The WBC is not recognized by the majority of the Baptist faith. Membership to their exclusive hate group is strictly limited to Phelps’ relatives and close friends. The Phelps family protests funerals to provoke “counter-hatred”. They WANT to anger mourners at the funerals as if they are inviting us to confront them. Anyone who tried to stop them was slapped with a lawsuit. They are a small group that no one wants to be associated with, so I say just ignore them.
    It is the basic right of every American to protest (peacefully). These people travel all the way from Kansas to assemble. It’s not like they’re just showing up at any random funeral. They plan these things. It’s the lowest form of “freedom of expression” when you protest a funeral but denying them that right can be tricky.

    • I should add that protests can represent many sides of an issue. For instance, anytime a convict is being executed there are people protesting for and against the death penalty while the execution is taking place. Also people protest outside hospitals on the “right to die” issue as in the case of Terri Schiavo who had her feeding tube removed and later died. Where do you draw the line and how do you keep the right to protest (peacefully) ?

  3. JonJon says:

    Ok, there’s a difference between protesting right-to-life and the death penalty issues…these have legal issues behind them…what’s the excuse or cause at protesting funerals? There is no legal issue being addressed at funeral protests. People who protest at abortion clinics are protesting the pro-choice/life issue…there is no legal basis for protests at funerals…its a private matter at a very emotional time for a family & friends…this time should only be for them and thier mourning, not any protesters…simply put, protesting of any kind at funerals or burial serives should ALL BE ILLEGAL!! Respect for the dead and thier families/friends 1st!!!

  4. I agree with you, GeorgeSaintGeorge.

    Note that they Phelps group typically stands somewhere off the grounds (outside, across the road, etc). There doesn’t have to be a ‘legal’ or legitimacy basis for protests or expressions. You have the right to stand on the street corner and protest the color of the grass if you’d like.

    Or do something retarded like the Phelps.

    I think the Phelps folks are maggots. They have a weird, exhibitionist streak that feeds off the attentions such controversy creates. GSG is also right that we should just ignore them.

    I’m not defending what they say or how they say it. I am defending their right to say it.

  5. You have the right to express your opinion, but in many places you don’t have the right to: stalk, harass, loiter, defame, or put others in danger (yell fire in a theater) etc… I think framing this debate in terms of freedom of expression is wrong. This is about harassment. You don’t have the right to torment people. That’s why stalkers go to jail. That’s why people who harass women get arrested. Why would harrasing the families during a funeral be any different?

    Now if the Phelps clan wants to protest somewhere where the family wont see them (but the public does) then that’s fine. I imagine there are times when they push the boundaries and harass people at funerals that already breaks existing laws.

  6. Thanks Fausto – work’s been killer ;).

    Charlesver, I agree, but if you follow the Phelps group closely you’ll find that they don’t do any of the things you (correctly) suggest are illegal. They’re actually quite crafty in how they go about their ‘protests’.

    This debate *is* about Free Speech. Whether you agree with passing a law about protesting at funerals or not, it’s unlikely to affect their actions… most (all?) of the funerals they protest are on private or otherwise protected grounds, and they protest at a distance. It’s nearly impossible to legislate (in a meaningful way) to ensure that their protest or one like it couldn’t be seen. This debate is sparked by the fact that people don’t like what they have to say or how they’re saying it.

    That my friends is free speech, and one of the prices of that freedom is listening to nasty people who are butt-wrong conducting vitriolic, hateful speeches that make your blood curdle. Just because I – and most everyone – don’t like what they have to say or how they say it does not mean they shouldn’t do it.

    At the very least, the draw attention to just how ridiculous their point of view is. Thank goodness they’re not actually good at oration or event planning.

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