Forty-eight states have joined an amicus brief in the appeal of a $5 million verdict in favor of a man who sued protesters who showed up at his son’s funeral.
Virginia is one of the two states (Maine is the other) that declined to back Albert Snyder’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Snyder won his lawsuit against Fred Phelps and his Kansas-based fundamentalist church, Westboro Baptist.
Phelps and his supporters showed up the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, carrying signs with messages such as “Thank God for dead soldiers.” The group has picketed military funerals across America because they believe deaths during wartime are punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality.
The Associated Press has the full story.
Snyder won in federal court in Baltimore; the verdict was reversed in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited free speech concerns. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli likewise said that the commonwealth wouldn’t back the appeal, noting through a spokesman that “the case could set a precedent that could severely curtail certain valid exercises of free speech.”
The case may provide a significant ruling on the 1st Amendment and what limits can be place on our fundamental right of free speech.
What do you think? Is Cuccinelli right? Or do the officials in the 48 other states, who believe there is a compelling state interest in keeping protesters away from funerals?