March 3rd, 2011
11:05 AM ET

Opinion: Funeral protest ruling painful but right

Editor's note: Jeffrey Toobin is a senior legal analyst for CNN and a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine, where he covers legal affairs.

(CNN) - The Supreme Court ruled that a Kansas church whose members travel the country to protest at military funerals, holding signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers" and "God blew up the troops," has a right to continue such demonstrations.

The case was brought by Albert Snyder, whose 20-year-old son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, was killed in Iraq in 2006. The family-dominated Westboro Baptist Church, run by Fred Phelps, protested at Matthew Snyder's funeral to spread their opinion that American deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for U.S. immorality and tolerance of homosexuality and abortion.

CNN.com talked to CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin about Snyder v. Phelps, which pitted the right of families to grieve in privacy against the First Amendment right to free expression.

Read Jeffrey Toobin's full op-ed about the Supreme Court's decision on Westboro Baptist Church
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Courts • Homosexuality • Opinion • Westboro Bapitst Church

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Ashley

    I truly believe this group is evil and has no connection to God or any religious figures as God IS love and would absolutely not approve of them or their actions. I agree that every American has a right to free speech, however, there are guidelines that should be created to prevent the exagrated pain caused by the Westboro Baptist community. They should not be allowed to picket within at least 500 miles of any funeral. This would at least remove them from the same city where the funeral is taking place. It is clear that what they are doing is wrong and it is the government's responsibility to serve and represent the rights of all Americans and yes, it is a human right to bury one's dead in peace. Also, perhaps someone could answer/speculate why the Westboro people live in America if they have so much hate for Americans and the culture. Though they claim they are trying to teach/save Americans, I do not believe that is the core reason of their actions. It appears that at the core of who they are, is pure hate, arrogance, and most of all evility.

    March 28, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  2. Bryne

    This ruling is not right. Those people are jackals out to prey upon the hurting. They should be picked up, taken over to Iraq and dropped off. Let them see first hand what really happens then come back and say that picketing funderals is okay.. It is WRONG!

    March 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
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