Today the U.S. Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, ruled that members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church have a constitutionally protected right to protest hateful speech at funerals of military personnel who lost their lives defending our country. Freedom Alliance President Tom Kilgannon issued the following statement in response to the Court’s ruling.
“In their ruling on Snyder v. Phelps, eight Justices of the Supreme Court got it wrong. Their decision allows hateful and repugnant behavior to continue to desecrate the solemnity of heroes’ funerals.
“For most Americans, a funeral service is a religious event. It is a private affair, a solemn occasion, a family matter. The Court’s ruling wrongly elevates the right of free speech over the right to the free exercise of religion, and denies the family the opportunity to peacefully and privately say good-bye to their loved one before committing their soul to God.
“The protestors of Westboro Baptist Church have an unlimited ability to make their voices heard. They can publish leaflets; post their hate on the Internet; and issue press releases by the hundreds. In no way are their First Amendment rights infringed by refusing them access to a private and solemn occasion such as a funeral.
“By contrast, for families of fallen military heroes, the funeral is their one opportunity to gather friends and family to join them in prayer; to help them mourn and grieve. That tradition and that right can’t be restored to them once it destroyed by hate mongers.”