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Supreme Court: Church's Protests Protected by First Amendment Supreme Court: Church's Protests Protected by First Amendment

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Supreme Court: Church's Protests Protected by First Amendment


About 10 members of the Westboro Baptist Church demonstrate outside the Supreme Court while justices hear oral arguments in Snyder v. Phelps, which tests the limits of the First Amendment, Oct. 6, 2010 in Washington, D.C.((Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images))

The Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday that the First Amendment protects the picketing of military funerals by a Kansas group.

In an 8-1 decision, the Court upheld an Appeals Court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment against the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its graphic antigay and antiabortion language, for picketing the 2006 funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, the Associated Press reported.


The lone dissenter was Justice Samuel Alito.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the Westboro Baptist Church's actions are entitled to "special protection" under the First Amendment.

"That protection cannot be overcome by a jury finding that the picketing was outrageous," he wrote.


The Westboro Baptist Church continues to picket military funerals and other events around the United States. The case is Snyder v. Phelps. The Court's opinion is available here.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the name of the court case. It is Snyder v. Phelps.

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