1st Amendment protects military funeral protesters

  • #26
BobG
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I'd like the media to just ignore them. I think everyone knows what they're about and realizes that they have nothing constructive to say.
Given that Snyder only saw the WBC protesting the funeral on the news, an interesting strategy would have been to name the news station as a codefendant. There's no chance the news station would be found liable for any damages (but, then again, this was such a dog of a case that I'm shocked it ever reached the US Supreme Court), but it would still be embarrassing for a news station to be considered a coconspirator with the WBC.
 
  • #27
Gokul43201
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If he had even seen the protestors live instead of on a news broadcast, he might have had a better case.
Still, not a winnable case, I hope. Since WBC complied with all city regulations, how can there be a valid case against them based on the possibility that they were seen live rather than after the fact?
 
  • #28
BobG
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I just noticed that only a news story about the decision was linked; not the actual decision.

http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/09-751.pdf

That said, “ ‘[e]ven protected speech is not equally permissible in all places and at all times.’ ” Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U. S. 474, 479. Westboro’s choice of where and when to conduct its picketing is not beyond the Government’s regulatory reach—it is “subject to reasonable time, place, or manner restrictions.” Clark v. Community for Creative Non-Violence, 468 U. S. 288, 293. The facts here are quite different, however, both with respect to the activity being regulated and the means of restricting those activities, from the few limited situations where the Court has concluded that the location of targeted picketing can be properly regulated under provisions deemed content neutral.
(b) Snyder also may not recover for the tort of intrusion upon seclusion. He argues that he was a member of a captive audience at his son’s funeral, but the captive audience doctrine—which has been applied sparingly, see Rowan v. Post Office Dept., 397 U. S. 728, 736– 738; Frisby, supra, at 484–485—should not be expanded to the circumstances here. Westboro stayed well away from the memorial service, Snyder could see no more than the tops of the picketers’ signs, and there is no indication that the picketing interfered with the funeral service itself. Pp. 13–14.
The location of the protests were important. WBC has a right to free speech. It doesn't have a right to disrupt a person's funeral. In other words, a city can establish regulations that would prevent a protest from disrupting a funeral and, as long as WBC complies with those regulations, it can't be successfully sued or prosecuted.

If the city felt that in sight, but some set distance away, was suitable protection to ensure a funeral wasn't disrupted, then Snyder would still most likely be unsuccessful. What's reasonable has quite a large range. The regulations would have to be outrageous (allow protestors to stage protest at the gravesite in the middle of the funeral, for example - or only allow the protest to take place at least 20 miles from the gravesite as an example on the opposite extreme) in order to successfully challenge them.
 
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  • #29


Still, not a winnable case, I hope. Since WBC complied with all city regulations, how can there be a valid case against them based on the possibility that they were seen live rather than after the fact?
You're right, but I still like the point; it would make it a bigger issue. I like how you think BobG!

Still. How about this: [PLAIN]http://cdn.uproxx.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/taser-xrep.jpg [Broken] Since nobody seems into my campaign of terror and murder. :wink:
 
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  • #31
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Alito dissents: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/03/AR2011030302920.html

I disagree with Alito. Besides, what exactly is an "elementary right"? And how is it different from a fundamental right?
Alito has a point, but IMO this is vastly uncharted territory as of yet.

Ill frist say that criminal law in just about any territory punishes severely assaults and aggravated assault crimes. Battery for example is a volitional act done with the purpose of causing harmful or offensive contact. Besides being a crime, you are liable for civil damages as well.

In the current years psychologysts and neruobiologists have amassed evidence which seems to point in the direction that social pain activates the same centers of pain as physical pain in the brain. Additionally, it may cause psychological damage to a person. Repeated aggression can cause anxiety, depression. Not good.

So it seems somehow ironic that we punish criminally harmful and offensive physical behavior, while at the same time we allow certain forms of social aggression unpunished.

I myself had seen persons verbally abused go through very rough times because of this. Anger, pain, a feeling of impotence to stop the assault all mounted up. Frankly, sometimes is just easier to be beaten physically, the pain may go away sooner :P

So if you take this perspective, you have serious grounds to reconsider the limits of 1st amendment. We still need more evidence on the damage and pain non-physical violence can cause in humans. It will come in the next decades probably, slowly. We are not there yet, there is too mcuh unknown, so for now I would support free speech as it is understood today.

Speech, in the mouth of someone aware of what he is doing, can be as destructive as battery or rape.
 
  • #32
Gokul43201
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So if you take this perspective, you have serious grounds to reconsider the limits of 1st amendment.
City ordinances already impose limits on the FA to minimize such psychological battery. Those limitations were respected by WBC through their adherence to the city regulations.
 
  • #33
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City ordinances already impose limits on the FA to minimize such psychological battery. Those limitations were respected by WBC through their adherence to the city regulations.
It is not important what the city does, and what is their perception of the events, from a constitutional PoV. Furthermore, we don't know how effective are those limitations. They are welcome for now.

We dont seek to minimize the effects of a crime like battery or rape, we seek to protect our own from the crime occurring in the first place. We dont let rapists walk free, and seek to minimize the effects of the damage they did on victims. If a crime exists, you have to seek to punish the crime through criminal law, not allow it and try to minimize its effects.

Yes, his honor has a very serious point. But as I said, its too much of an uncharted territory as for now.
 
  • #34
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Alito dissents: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/03/AR2011030302920.html

I disagree with Alito. Besides, what exactly is an "elementary right"? And how is it different from a fundamental right?
what i find most troubling is this:
He added: "It does not follow, however, that they may intentionally inflict severe emotional injury on private persons at a time of intense emotional sensitivity by launching vicious verbal attacks that make no contribution to public debate."
the very idea of muzzling people based on some qualitative assessment of their speech is profane.


Alito has a point, but IMO this is vastly uncharted territory as of yet.

Ill frist say that criminal law in just about any territory punishes severely assaults and aggravated assault crimes. Battery for example is a volitional act done with the purpose of causing harmful or offensive contact. Besides being a crime, you are liable for civil damages as well.

In the current years psychologysts and neruobiologists have amassed evidence which seems to point in the direction that social pain activates the same centers of pain as physical pain in the brain. Additionally, it may cause psychological damage to a person. Repeated aggression can cause anxiety, depression. Not good.

So it seems somehow ironic that we punish criminally harmful and offensive physical behavior, while at the same time we allow certain forms of social aggression unpunished.

I myself had seen persons verbally abused go through very rough times because of this. Anger, pain, a feeling of impotence to stop the assault all mounted up. Frankly, sometimes is just easier to be beaten physically, the pain may go away sooner :P

So if you take this perspective, you have serious grounds to reconsider the limits of 1st amendment. We still need more evidence on the damage and pain non-physical violence can cause in humans. It will come in the next decades probably, slowly. We are not there yet, there is too mcuh unknown, so for now I would support free speech as it is understood today.

Speech, in the mouth of someone aware of what he is doing, can be as destructive as battery or rape.
there was no assault here. the offendees had to actually exert some effort to expose themselves to it.

your argument could be pretty far reaching, too. we may have to completely re-examine the way we look at domestic violence. it may be that, more often than not, the "victim" really was asking for it.
 
  • #35
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your argument could be pretty far reaching, too. we may have to completely re-examine the way we look at domestic violence. it may be that, more often than not, the "victim" really was asking for it.
Yes it has far reaching implications.

Its uncharted territory, but it may have legal consequences in several decades.
 
  • #36
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Yes it has far reaching implications.

Its uncharted territory, but it may have legal consequences in several decades.
i hope not. every individual on the planet will have their own set of rules as to what causes them emotional pain. it's not even clear that eliminating emotional pain would be good for society in general.
 
  • #37
BobG
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Some liberals have complained that Alito's view in the Snyder case is at odds with his vote in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission that said corporations have a free speech right to play a larger role in election spending.

Goldstein and others disagree.

"I think the criticisms of Alito as being inconsistent in light of the campaign finance cases are wrong," he said. "In his view, the First Amendment has a core value relating to political speech. In his view, extending it to protect videos of animal cruelty and exploitation of a military funeral goes too far. The rest of the court obviously disagrees, but his position seems completely coherent."
Alito does have a point that the intent of the First Amendment is primarily aimed at protecting political speech. Literature and art may receive the same type of protection, but other types of speech (commercial speech, for example) have less protection.

Applying that to the Snyder case is a little troubling since you have to subjectively decide the WBC's 'political' views are too bizarre to legitimatize as political speech. I'd be a little embarrassed to say the views of the WBC are sane, but the idea of just tossing them out of the realm of political speech completely bothers me.

Edit: Alito's dissent is also very well written and worth reading. None the less, I don't think I could agree with him, even if his dissent does leave some lingering troubling thoughts.
 
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  • #39
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The first amendment was not made to defend our right to say things such as "have a nice day" or "good morning": it was made to protect our freedom to express any opinions, including explosively controversial ones. Prohibiting people from expressing certain opinions just because we do not like them creates a slippery slope.

There are reasons to limit free speech: violation of confidentiality agreements, threats, harassment, and such. But expressing an opinion that other people don't like is not one of them.

As much respect I have for American troops, and as abhorrently wrong I find military funeral protesters, it is unconstitutional to prohibit their protests to an extent.
 
  • #40
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There are reasons to limit free speech: violation of confidentiality agreements, threats, harassment, and such. But expressing an opinion that other people don't like is not one of them.
Surely going to someones funeral with the express intent to cause pain to the bereaved could be considered harassment. I'm unsure of what is considered legally hararssment over there.

As annoying as the UK is sometimes, banning Fred Phelps from entering the country on the grounds that he's a dick is a victory for the common good.
 
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  • #41
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At a certain point protesting at military funerals does become harassment and slander, but as long as the protesters do not cross that line, they should be allowed to protest.

The 1st amendment protects free speech, and unfortunately, it does allow people to say bad things, but on the whole, it is best for society not to censor whatever offends it.
 
  • #42
BobG
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As annoying as the UK is sometimes, banning Fred Phelps from entering the country on the grounds that he's a dick is a victory for the common good.
Interesting list of people banned from entering the UK:

Geert Wilders
Osama Bin Laden
Snoop Dog
Robert Mugabe (and his wife)
Albert Speers
Fred Phelps (and his daughter)
Sun Myung Moon
Louis Farrakhan
Martha Stewart
Slobodan Milosevic
L Ron Hubbard

How did Martha Stewart get on that list?
 
  • #43
Jasongreat
The first amendment was not made to defend our right to say things such as "have a nice day" or "good morning": it was made to protect our freedom to express any opinions, including explosively controversial ones. Prohibiting people from expressing certain opinions just because we do not like them creates a slippery slope.

There are reasons to limit free speech: violation of confidentiality agreements, threats, harassment, and such. But expressing an opinion that other people don't like is not one of them.

As much respect I have for American troops, and as abhorrently wrong I find military funeral protesters, it is unconstitutional to prohibit their protests to an extent.
Its only unconstitutional if congress prohibits speech, and since the 14th amendment state governments, the public can restrict speech all they want. If enough people show up and shout louder than WBC, they can even put signs between them and the family blocking the view, they go home like they did in Missouri, if I remember correctly.

Edit:http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-20022176-504083.html
 
  • #44
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How did Martha Stewart get on that list?
Interestingly enough there is a link just below her name stating why. Temporary even permanent refusals for entry are different to the home office bans. Refusals may be becuase someone was convicted of a crime, or other significant reason.

Martha was a bit of an odd one to refuse entry to though.


On the other hand the fuss that ensued from an enraged Michael Savage was worth than ban just for his reaction.
 
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  • #45
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In addition to the hate-mongering Phelps, I note Michael Weiner aka Michael Savage made the list. Who is he? Wikipedia says he's third radio talk show host in the nation, but I've never heard of him.

As for Phelps, he was disbarred from the practice of law for a reason, and most of his band of protesters are related to him and one another. He claims he's a Christian, and a Baptist, no less, yet his group of hate-mongerers violates so many precepts of the Bible it's not even funny.

I'll not protest at his funeral, as I have far too much dignity to stoop to his level. In fact, I'll even poor a pint of Guiness Stout on his grave! To ensure it's purity, I'll even do him the benevolence of straining it through my kidneys, first. ;)
 
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  • #46
Evo
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Martha was a bit of an odd one to refuse entry to though.
She's a convicted felon.
 

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