Death + the Law Death Ethics

US Supreme Court Hears Funeral Protest Case on Wednesday

Westboro Baptist’s Funeral Protests Put Free Speech To Test
Michael Doyle, McClatchy Newspapers (October 1, 2010)


Supreme Court Term Offers Hot Issues and Future Hints
Adam Liptak, The New York Times (October 2, 2010)


Free speech: Westboro Church Supreme Court Case Tests First Amendment
Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor (October 2, 2010)

On Wednesday, October 6, the US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in an important free speech and protest rights case. Death Ref has been covering this case for a while and you can read those previous posts here. In brief, the Westboro Baptist Church, which is based in Topeka, Kansas was sued by Albert Snyder after its members protested outside his son’s military funeral in Maryland. Snyder’s son was a US Marine and the Westboro Baptist Church, led by Fred Phelps and his daughter Shirley, protested outside the funeral with signs which proclaimed “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and other, similar statements. The WBC is also known as the group God Hates Fags and fervently believes that soldiers are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan because America has embraced homosexuality, therefore God is letting the deaths happen.


The WBC’s theology is an island unto itself when it comes to its funeral protests but it has garnered a lot of attention over the years. It has also drawn the ire of people who don’t like the church at all.

Albert Snyder’s case has been working its way through courts for a few years now and the US Supreme Court faces a particularly difficult set of arguments. Warren Richey’s piece in the Christian Science Monitor does an excellent job of positioning the case within a broader historical context.

And it looks like this decision will be historic, in one way or another. The politics involved are making for odd mixes of both conservative and liberal thought. It is also really difficult to know how the Justices will respond during the oral arguments.

Keep checking back to Death Ref for updates.

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