The protestors obey all local laws. Their protest is fueled not by animus towards the dead Marine, but by their belief that the lord is exacting punishment on our country for our lax moral standards. The dead soldiers are proof that the lord is punishing our country.
The Marine's father (bless him) sued in US District Court and received a judgment of 5 million dollars.
The Fourth Circuit reversed, holding that the First Amendment protects such "utterly distasteful" speech.
The Supreme Court hears argument for one hour at 10:00 AM on Wednesday in Snyder v. Phelps, et.al (09-751). All nine justices will participate.
Rumpole says: The strength of our country lies within the protections fringe groups receive.
However, we can't help but believe that while the First Amendment protects the rights of this group and others to provide their message in a public forum, the First Amendment does not give them the right to dishonor a dead Marine, or any dead soldier who has died for their country. If we can uphold laws that prohibit the burning of the flag (which quite frankly we believe is an act protected by the First Amendment) then we certainly can have a law protecting the sanctity of a solider's funeral.
The right to publicly distribute offensive material does not include the right to force that material on someone in a private setting. Just as these "church members" have no right to invade a home to distribute their literature, they have no right to force their views on individuals engaging in intensely private acts that occur in a public setting.
The law would not allow these people to storm a church or temple during a religious service to spread their offensive messages. And while their conduct is ostensibly conducted in public, it is designed to disrupt a private service.
For all we care congress can pass a law exempting funerals from the First Amendment.
We don't care how the nine justices twist and contort themselves to uphold the verdict. But we know this: while this Marine died to protect their right to spread their vile thoughts, the law ought to protect him and his family's right to a private and dignified funeral.