N1120A
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U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:28 pm

In a ruling I completely expected and support as an employment and civil rights lawyer, the Supreme Court released its holding this morning stating that the Westboro Baptist Church has the right to picket military funerals. The result was just announced on MSNBC, though I haven't found an internet link yet. Will add one as soon as I find one.

In writing for an 8-1 Court, Chief Justice Roberts wrote basically what I've been saying - these are people that the vast majority of us find disgusting bigots but they are just as entitled to free speech rights.

The case is Snyder v. Phelps.
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mbmbos
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:56 pm

Without a doubt it is the correct decision. As despicable as the Westboro group is, the thought that our rights to free speech could be curtailed is far more threatening to our society than a bunch of hate filled yahoos disrupting funerals.
 
N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:57 pm

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gatorfan
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:08 pm

It's the absolute right decision that results in the absolute wrong outcome. Sometimes it must suck to be a justice or judge.

I'm interested in Alito's dissent.
 
N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:52 pm

Quoting gatorfan (Reply 3):
I'm interested in Alito's dissent.

He basically rests his view on the public figure line of cases, stating that Snyder is not a public figure so the harmful speech should not be protected. Its completely unconvincing, incredibly intellectually dishonest given his inappropriately staunch defense of Citizens United and really just a visceral reaction to a class he wants to protect. If this was Phelps at a gay man's funeral, I think Alito would have made it a 9-0 majority.

Quoting gatorfan (Reply 3):
Sometimes it must suck to be a justice or judge.

Being the last line of defense for the Constitution never sucks.
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AGM100
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:05 pm

A more interesting issue is that of the foreigner Muslim leader Anjem Choudary ... who plans along with the Islamic Thinkers Society of America and CAIR operatives to have a march on DC tomorrow. They have a permit from the DC police (thanks to the International Socialists of the World.org) and plan a march to call for Sharia in the US. I believe our government should ban him ... he is not a citizen and has no rights here . Even better he should be arrested at the airport and sent to "gitmo" .... that would be a interesting SC Case ...

The Phelps case is not a shocker at all ...they have a right to protests ... I am not surprised at the ruling at all. I hate those people but they have rights .
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Longhornmaniac
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:19 pm

My only question about this (and obviously I would defer to the Supreme Court's vastly superior legal comprehension), is the potential to incite violence. I don't know about you guys, but I would imagine I'm not alone in thinking that if this ever happened to me, I'd consider killing them all. I would definitely think the imminent lawless action test put forth in Brandenberg v. Ohio would at least somewhat come into play.

With that said, it's a fairly circumstantial argument, so unfortunately, the correct decision was probably made.

Either way, I can't wait for these people to get what's coming to them.

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N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:27 pm

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
he is not a citizen and has no rights here .

Sorry, wrong there. The Constitution makes very clear where there are rights of "citizens" and rights of "people." Rights of "people" are those guaranteed to every single person on US soil, whether or not they are a citizen. Do you also believe that non-citizens should have no right to a fair trial (leave out any and all illegal immigration debate here and assume they are legal). Right to counsel? Search and seizure?

The First Amendment is one of those "people" amendments.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
I hate

You shouldn't hate anyone.

Quoting Longhornmaniac (Reply 6):
My only question about this (and obviously I would defer to the Supreme Court's vastly superior legal comprehension), is the potential to incite violence. I don't know about you guys, but I would imagine I'm not alone in thinking that if this ever happened to me, I'd consider killing them all. I would definitely think the imminent lawless action test put forth in Brandenberg v. Ohio would at least somewhat come into play.

1) I think the history with these pieces of garbage has shown that violence generally doesn't result.

2) They are yelling insults, not threats.

3) None of the 3 opinions really consider this because I don't think anyone expects that kind of incitement.
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D L X
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:28 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 4):
Snyder is not a public figure so the harmful speech should not be protected

What is inherently wrong with this idea?

The first amendment is to protect the dissemination of ideas, especially those critical of the government. Picketing a funeral is harrassment, which was never considered protected speech.


[/devils advocate][/sorta]
 
N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:34 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 8):
What is inherently wrong with this idea?

When it comes to defamation law, nothing. When it comes to engaging in public speech, its terribly wrong.

Quoting D L X (Reply 8):
The first amendment is to protect the dissemination of ideas, especially those critical of the government. Picketing a funeral is harrassment, which was never considered protected speech.

Except that they are picketing on public ground the funeral of someone who has aligned himself with the government they are protesting. Further, while they are picketing a funeral, their protests are ostensibly over general government and public figure (the Catholic Church, in this case) actions. Given that they complied with reasonable time and place restrictions, there really is no way around this.
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D L X
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:40 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 9):
Quoting D L X (Reply 8):
What is inherently wrong with this idea?

When it comes to defamation law, nothing. When it comes to engaging in public speech, its terribly wrong.

So harrassment in public is okay? Or perhaps harrassment in public about societal things is okay?

Quoting N1120A (Reply 9):
Except that they are picketing on public ground the funeral of someone who has aligned himself with the government they are protesting.

no way. Nuh uh. You don't give up your rights to privacy because you draw a paycheck from Uncle Sam, just like you don't become his spokesperson by being employed by him.

Quoting N1120A (Reply 9):
Given that they complied with reasonable time and place restrictions, there really is no way around this.

In the end, this is the only reason I agree (at all) with the decision. They were kept away from the funeral, so in that respect, it was just another march.

[Edited 2011-03-02 09:41:47]
 
N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:46 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 10):

So harrassment in public is okay?

Hurling epithets or profane insults at someone is certainly okay. Doing it generally and from 1000 feet away where they can't hear you and barely see you - of course.

Quoting D L X (Reply 10):
Or perhaps harrassment in public about societal things is okay?

1) Its not as if they were actually in Snyder's face.

2) Cheering for gay rights and access to safe, clean and legal abortions is considered "harassment" by people I find in the wrong. Doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to do so.

Quoting D L X (Reply 10):

no way. Nuh uh. You don't give up your rights to privacy because you draw a paycheck from Uncle Sam, just like you don't become his spokesperson by being employed by him.

You lose your right to privacy when you die.
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rfields5421
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:50 pm

If I lived in Wichita - I'd be out every worship day demonstrating my right of free speech by marching in front of their church - portraying them as the disciples of the devil.
 
AGM100
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:51 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 7):
Sorry, wrong there.



Ok ... he has certain rights ... but it would be interesting to see how the court would rule application of the 1st to a foreigner calling for the abolishment of our constitution. (it may have been decided I am not aware of it) .
But here we have a foreigner calling for the over throw of our constitution ...is that protected free speech ? Even more interesting would be to have a US soldier shoot him in DC and claim the oath of defending the constitution as the basis of his rights... man now that would get harry.
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kaitak
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:05 pm

Quoting gatorfan (Reply 3):
It's the absolute right decision that results in the absolute wrong outcome. Sometimes it must suck to be a justice or judge.

I think the outcome had to be expected. I agree it was the right decision (in the context of the first amendment), but I don't think it was the wrong outcome. Why? Does government or the courts need to tell us that what these people are saying or doing is repulsive, immoral or nasty? No, the vast majority of people can make that decision for themselves. Being in a democracy means that you trust people with these decisions, just as you trust them to make decisions at the ballot box. One goes with the other; either you have freedom or you don't.

That said, personally I don't agree with absolute freedom of expression.

Why?

If, like me, you're a white person in a predominantly white society, then you're not really going to be able to feel what it is like to have your rights or dignity questioned by some people (for example, the Far Right); I think it is repulsive that they say what I say; I can sympathise, but I cannot fully emphathise. However, I do not believe it is right for these people to behave in a way which undermines dignity and respect for any part of society, particularly if that behaviour is likely to incite violence or hatred against that minority.

It may sound counter-intuitive and illogical, but there are no absolute freedoms in a free society.
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:19 pm

Quoting Longhornmaniac (Reply 6):
My only question about this (and obviously I would defer to the Supreme Court's vastly superior legal comprehension), is the potential to incite violence

That is an interesting question, and frankly hate speech and making a case that Phelps' crew were practicing it is about the only way I can think of that would have a chance of making his actions unconstitutional. Diddo with fighting words, which are also not protected by the constitution.

Quoting D L X (Reply 8):
Picketing a funeral is harrassment

The excerpts I read of the Robert's-written opinion seem to be pretty logical and easy to understand, even for a non-lawyer like myself. Here's the best way he sums up why protesting at a funeral (especially in the specific case and circumstances that the court considered) is not unconstitutional:

Simply put, the church members had the right to be where they were. Westboro alerted local authorities to its funeral protest and fully complied with police guidance onwhere the picketing could be staged. The picketing was conducted under police supervision some 1,000 feet from the church, out of the sight of those at the church. The protest was not unruly; there was no shouting, profanity, or violence.

The record confirms that any distress occasioned by Westboro’s picketing turned on the content and viewpoint of the message conveyed, rather than any interference with the funeral itself. A group of parishioners standing at the very spot where Westboro stood, holding signs that said “God Bless America” and “God Loves You,” would not have been subjected to liability. It was what Westboro said that exposed it to tort damages.

...

Here, Westboro stayed well away from the memorial service. Snyder could see no more than the tops of the signs when driving to the funeral. And there is no indication that the picketing in any way interfered with the funeral service itself.


It's important to remember that you can regulate speech based on the time, place and manner (which is why you can be arrested for staging a massive protest on a public highway, yelling with a megaphone in the middle of a neighborhood street at midnight, or for protesting in a way that urges violence from the participants), but not message. That's why the distinction between the Westboro folks and the peaceful counter protest is so important - in this country, both have a right to be there, and both also have a right to have a message.

I love free speech cases, as thats the part of Con law that I'm most familiar with, having been a teaching assistant for a 1st Amendment law class in graduate school.
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N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 6:24 pm

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 13):
but it would be interesting to see how the court would rule application of the 1st to a foreigner calling for the abolishment of our constitution.

Well, lots of people call for repugnant change to our constitution. Like denying basic civil rights to gay people. Anyway, aliens in the United States are given the same rights as citizens regarding basic human rights like free speech, religion and due process.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
If I lived in Wichita - I'd be out every worship day demonstrating my right of free speech by marching in front of their church - portraying them as the disciples of the devil.

That's the way to do it.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 13):
Even more interesting would be to have a US soldier shoot him in DC and claim the oath of defending the constitution as the basis of his rights... man now that would get harry.

It wouldn't be interesting. It would be a murder conviction.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 13):
But here we have a foreigner calling for the over throw of our constitution ...is that protected free speech ?

You don't overthrow a document, you overthrow a government. Ever heard of the Smith Act? That got eviscerated by the Supremes. And that was in the 50s. Their holdings from then apply to almost the same facts you are assuming here.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
foreigner Muslim leader Anjem Choudary

You, of course, mean extremist leader Anjem Choudary.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
CAIR operatives

  
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AGM100
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:17 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 16):
It wouldn't be interesting. It would be a murder conviction.



Your probably right ... about as interesting as the Westboro case then ...
I agree this guy is a radical extremist ... we will see what happens tomorrow .. lets see how many people show up.
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DocLightning
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:18 pm

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
They have a permit from the DC police (thanks to the International Socialists of the World.org) and plan a march to call for Sharia in the US. I believe our government should ban him ... he is not a citizen and has no rights here . Even better he should be arrested at the airport and sent to "gitmo" .... that would be a interesting SC Case ...

The Constitution at no point, other than voting rights, differentiates between citizens and non-citizens. Non-citizens under U.S. jurisdiction are still "persons" and are subject to all the rights in the Constitution. He has a right to a fair trial. If he's guilty, then the court will find him to be so.

When you decide to waive due process for a certain group of people, it's very easy for an increasing large subset (until it becomes a majority) to keep getting included.

I agree that he does NOT have a right to enter the country, but once he is allowed to, he does have rights. He has not committed an arrestable offense (that I know of). If Phelps is allowed to spout his extreme-Christian views, then extreme-Muslim views are also acceptable.

On-topic, people need to stop suing WBC. Phelps is a lawyer and he's very meticulous about not breaking laws. He makes his money by goading people to sue him and then collecting off the counter-suit.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:35 pm

Alito the lone ranger - I'm surprised.   
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:47 pm

Quoting kaitak (Reply 14):
but I don't think it was the wrong outcome. Why?

Because after all the discussion of ConLaw is said and done, it must suck to have to bury your son while idiots like this are saying what they're saying and doing what they're doing. I'm not saying that they don't have a Constitutional right to do it, I'm just saying that it made a really difficult day just a bit harder for the family.
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:57 pm

Yeah, it's the right call, but it really sucks to see that group winning anything.   

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 13):
But here we have a foreigner calling for the over throw of our constitution ...is that protected free speech ?

Absolutely. He can call for it as much as he wants. Doesn't mean it will happen without massive public support, since that's what you need to get the Constitution changed.

Quoting AGM100 (Reply 13):
Even more interesting would be to have a US soldier shoot him in DC and claim the oath of defending the constitution as the basis of his rights... man now that would get harry.

Not hairy at all - that would be a cut and dry case of murder on the part of the soldier.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
If I lived in Wichita - I'd be out every worship day demonstrating my right of free speech by marching in front of their church - portraying them as the disciples of the devil.

Good idea, but you're probably better off doing it in Topeka, since that's where their church is.  

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seb146
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:13 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 7):
Quoting AGM100 (Reply 5):
I hate

You shouldn't hate anyone.

Absolutly not. Leave that to Westboro "Church." They hate enough for everyone!

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):
I'd be out every worship day demonstrating my right of free speech by marching in front of their church - portraying them as the disciples of the devil.

In 1996, I attended my family's church. A middle-of-the-road church open to whomever wishes to worship in a Christian way. That includes gays and Blacks and unwed mothers. There were protesters out picketing saying how evil this particular church was and I thought to myself "why are these so-called Christians ignoring and going against one of the holiest commandments?" These people have no clue what Christianity is about. And they will find that out on judgement day!
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N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:14 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 18):

On-topic, people need to stop suing WBC. Phelps is a lawyer and he's very meticulous about not breaking laws. He makes his money by goading people to sue him and then collecting off the counter-suit.

1) Just about everyone in the Phelps family has gone to law school and are rather adept at First Amendment law, because they have so much experience.

2) Phelps himself was disbarred by both the State of Kansas then the various federal jurisdictions that admitted him years ago. The cases are generally handled by his daughters.

3) They don't counter-sue. As I explained in that previous long thread after the Fourth Circuit came down with its ruling, what WBC got was its costs of suit, and that is what it generally gets when it is sued and loses. They use an old tactic of charging the maximum possible for copying and the like to run up a bill and use their in-house printing capabilities to hold costs down and make a hefty profit. Then, when their rights are violated by some statute, they can also get attorney's fees.

Quoting fxramper (Reply 19):
Alito the lone ranger - I'm surprised.

I'm not. He's so intellectually dishonest, it makes Scalia blush. I'm more surprised that Thomas didn't go that way.
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Okie
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:29 pm

Quoting gatorfan (Reply 20):
it must suck to have to bury your son while idiots like this are saying what they're saying and doing what they're doing. I'm not saying that they don't have a Constitutional right to do it, I'm just saying that it made a really difficult day just a bit harder for the family


That is how they support themselves by extracting an emotional response. They travel with legal council and take people to court.
They spend their days searching for funerals of children, service men/women, for what they figure they can get an emotional response from someone who might act irrationally under the emotion of the moment.
So far it appears they seem to be successful. Look on the inter-net for a few minutes for a good emotionally charged bunch of prospects, drive a couple hours, get a permit, try to entice someone to violate their civil rights, file a court case and go back home thousands of dollars richer for a couple hours work.

Let them stand on the corner an spout rhetoric, if they do not get any response then they will have to go elsewhere to find a way to support themselves.

Okie
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:39 pm

Quoting okie (Reply 24):
They travel with legal council and take people to court.

They ARE their legal counsel. Margie Phelps, one of Fred's kids, even argued the case.

Here is the oral argument, including recording, if you want to listen.

http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_751/argument

Quoting okie (Reply 24):

Let them stand on the corner an spout rhetoric, if they do not get any response then they will have to go elsewhere to find a way to support themselves.

Exactly. Or set up a counter demonstration demonizing them with the truth.
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N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:46 pm

Incidentally, listening to the argument, I can hear Justice Breyer writing his concurrence as he questions Margie Phelps. He loves tests, and he tried to pull that out here.

Phelps, with her plain speaking manner, did quite well in arguing their position.
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ltbewr
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:46 am

As much as many despise the actions and opinions of the Phelps family cult, this solid 8-1 decision of the SCOTUS also protects the free speech of protesters in Wisconsin, the 'Tea Party', those opposed to war and local injustices.
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 1:51 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 12):

If I lived in Wichita - I'd be out every worship day demonstrating my right of free speech by marching in front of their church - portraying them as the disciples of the devil.

They live in Topeka but that's really irrelevant in this case. And as much as I don't like them, the right decision was made in this case.

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baroque
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:03 am

Quoting D L X (Reply 8):
The first amendment is to protect the dissemination of ideas, especially those critical of the government. Picketing a funeral is harrassment, which was never considered protected speech.
Quoting ltbewr (Reply 27):
As much as many despise the actions and opinions of the Phelps family cult, this solid 8-1 decision of the SCOTUS also protects the free speech of protesters in Wisconsin, the 'Tea Party', those opposed to war and local injustices.

Perhaps a pity the US constitution does not also include a caveat that judgments should also take common sense and a view of common decency into their rulings.
 
lewis
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:15 am

Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):
common decency into their rulings

This is tricky, lack common decency may be easy to spot in this case but in general, it always depends on the place and the time and is changing all the time.
 
N1120A
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:59 am

Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):

Perhaps a pity the US constitution does not also include a caveat that judgments should also take common sense and a view of common decency into their rulings.

Slippery meet slope.
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Cadet985
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:14 am

Here's an idea...the Court said that the group can't be stopped from protesting. Cities, towns, states, etc. can set limits on where they can protest. Now according to a measurement I just did on Google Earth, my home state, Pennsylvania is approximately 1,604,915 feet from Ohio to the New Jersey border. Theoretically speaking, what is to stop the PA legislature from passing a law stating that this group could not protest within 802,457 feet of a funeral? All the court said was that their right to protest was protected by the Constitution. The ruling says nothing that a state can't impose extremely strict limits on where and when these protests can take place. They would still have the right to protest all they want, just a major distance from funerals, etc. Now let's say a state imposes a law like this, and the church breaks it. They would then be subject to arrest for breaking that law, not for the protesting.

Marc
 
ltbewr
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:19 am

Quoting lewis (Reply 30):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):
common decency into their rulings

This is tricky, lack common decency may be easy to spot in this case but in general, it always depends on the place and the time and is changing all the time.

Our First Amendment, as to personal political and religious speech is pretty much absolute. Unlike many countries we do not have statutory limits like against references to Nazi Germany or Holocaust denial or burning the nation's flag or speaking stupid in general. The only real checks are on Commercial speech (advertising) or civil liability for liable or slander or the 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' when there is no fire or the threats of violence from some persons offended. The SCOTUS basically upheld a Circuit Court decision and 200 + years of well set precedent to overturn a trial court judgment that the person was 'harmed' by the legal speech of a few nuts.
 
baroque
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:47 am

Quoting lewis (Reply 30):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):
common decency into their rulings

This is tricky, lack common decency may be easy to spot in this case but in general, it always depends on the place and the time and is changing all the time.

Agreed, but perhaps that is a reason to argue that:

Quoting N1120A (Reply 31):
Slippery meet slope.

is better defined by hanging on to:

Quoting ltbewr (Reply 33):
Our First Amendment, as to personal political and religious speech is pretty much absolute.

The ltbewr formulation gets to sound awfully close to fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible or the Quran - at least to some eyes?????? It does seem odd to outsiders that the US preaches logic and reason to all and sundry, but when it comes to a number of issues that are totally outrageous, the fallback position is AN INTERPRETATION of what a bunch of radicals thought was OK in 1789.

Reminds one of:
"When the facts change, I change my opinion, what do you do?"

"Well, er um, (probably not even the hesitation!) I hark back to a nostrum from 1789.

Some of you make it sound as if there is about as much hope for good government in the US as there is in Saudi Arabia - apologies to SOHBI for that shot, he certainly does not deserve it even if his "boss" does.  

No doubt Lehman Bros will be ferreting around to find a reason why selling junk as A grade securities was also part of the deal.
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:11 am

Quoting Baroque (Reply 34):

The ltbewr formulation gets to sound awfully close to fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible or the Quran

But in this case, it is true and it is a good formulation.

The United States carries a tradition of endorsing freedom of speech, even very unpopular speech. There is no law that requires "decency" other than as relates to sex. Multiple legal precedents have shown that all speech that does not directly harm others is sacrosanct and free from government censorship.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:49 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 35):
But in this case, it is true and it is a good formulation.

Written like a good fundamentalist.   Expect to get a congrats letter from OBL any day now. Meanwhile Philip Adams will probably withhold his Koala stamp.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:06 pm

Here's my problem with the court's decision. Apparently, it rests on the fact that the Phelps group was protesting using a "public" argument, not specific to the funeral, but they chose a private venue as a cause to hold their protest. The two shouldn't be conflated.

Once a private event is chosen as a cause, then it becomes a protest of the private event, no matter what the topic is being protested, and should not be subject to normal First Amendment rights. Hate speech against private individuals is not the same as free expression of views about the government. I simply don't understand how the Supreme Court could have gotten this so wrong.

[Edited 2011-03-03 06:14:09]
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:12 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 37):
Once a private event is chosen as a cause, then it becomes a protest of the private event, no matter what the topic is being protested, and should not be subject to normal First Amendment rights. Hate speech against private individuals is not the same as free expression of views about the government. I simply don't understand how the Supreme Court could have gotten this so wrong.

Since when do people lose their First Amendment rights by being present at a private event? But they weren't even at the private event - they were protesting on the public right of way, which they always do. They know exactly what they can do within the law, and they follow it to the letter. They also know what counter protesters are allowed to do. You could do the same at their church service if you were on the sidewalk.

They're also not inciting or advocating violence; their signs are statements, pure and simple.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 4:45 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 31):
Quoting Baroque (Reply 29):

Perhaps a pity the US constitution does not also include a caveat that judgments should also take common sense and a view of common decency into their rulings.

Slippery meet slope.

There's no such thing as a slippery slope outside of rhetoric.

However, a "common sense" rule is really nothing more than a majority override - the very thing that the Constitution is meant to constrain.
 
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:10 pm

Quoting D L X (Reply 39):

However, a "common sense" rule is really nothing more than a majority override - the very thing that the Constitution is meant to constrain.

Precisely. Hence the slippery slope argument. You allow "common sense" rules and you end up being the UK. I love the UK, but there are massive fundamental flaws in their application of civil rights and liberties.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:44 pm

Quoting planespotting (Reply 38):
Since when do people lose their First Amendment rights by being present at a private event?

The First Amendment was written to protect people from tyranny by the government for speaking out against it. If you were able to say anything you wanted about anyone at any time in any venue, there wouldn't be laws regarding hate speech or slander.

Quoting planespotting (Reply 38):
But they weren't even at the private event

They were there because of the private event.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:46 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 37):
Here's my problem with the court's decision. Apparently, it rests on the fact that the Phelps group was protesting using a "public" argument, not specific to the funeral, but they chose a private venue as a cause to hold their protest. The two shouldn't be conflated.

Nope. They were technically on public ground and acceptable distance from the private event.

Listen, there are legal ways to deal with this. I like the idea of a counter-protest surrounding WBC and just holding up big, blank placards (either white or better yet, rainbow colors). Just prevent them from being seen.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:48 pm

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 42):
They were technically on public ground and acceptable distance from the private event.

You as well missed my point. Re-read, "as a cause" in the sentence I wrote.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:50 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 41):
there wouldn't be laws regarding hate speech or slander.

1) "Hate speech" is protected.

2) Defamation is an extremely specific tort that requires very strict circumstances to prove.
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AeroWesty
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:23 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 44):
1) "Hate speech" is protected.

Unless it fits into a pigeonhole such as libel, obscenity, or fighting words. Two of the three I could see applying to the Phelps gang.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:07 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 45):
Unless it fits into a pigeonhole such as libel, obscenity, or fighting words. Two of the three I could see applying to the Phelps gang.

1) Obscenity has always been applied to sex (unfortunately).

2) Libel is a) written and b) also defamation (like slander) and quite hard to prove. Unprovable in the case of a religious belief/opinion.

3) Fighting words is an extremely limited doctrine. See R.A.V. v. St. Paul
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:30 pm

Quoting N1120A (Reply 46):
3) Fighting words is an extremely limited doctrine. See R.A.V. v. St. Paul

So? You may make as many lists as you want, or cite as many court decisions as you'd like, but at the end of the day they still won't prove that the Phelps organization isn't targeting private functions held on private venues, which is not subject to unlimited First Amendment freedoms.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:55 pm

Quoting N1120A (Thread starter):

In writing for an 8-1 Court, Chief Justice Roberts wrote basically what I've been saying - these are people that the vast majority of us find disgusting bigots but they are just as entitled to free speech rights.

I think there should be an exception for the brave Americans who trained so hard, fought for our freedom, then made the ultimate sacrifice. The families should be granted serenity on the day they say goodbye to their loved ones. Americas soldiers protected us, we should, at the very least, protect them and their families on the day American heros are put to rest.


Sickening the Westboro Baptist Church is.
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RE: U.S. Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Phelps

Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:56 pm

Quoting AeroWesty (Reply 47):
So? You may make as many lists as you want, or cite as many court decisions as you'd like, but at the end of the day they still won't prove that the Phelps organization isn't targeting private functions held on private venues, which is not subject to unlimited First Amendment freedoms.

Except that said "private" functions on "private" venues are being held in "private" venues that are open to the public, in the public forum and that they are in honor of people who have aligned themselves with the government. Not to mention that the WBC idiots are following reasonable time and space requirements. Its sort of like getting together to protest the Koch Brothers' pow wow in Orange County last month.
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