Snyder v. Phelps
Snyder v. Phelps
Certainly the case of Snyder v. Phelps is one in which the Supreme Court must tread lightly. The decision is crucial to the preservation of an individual’s right to peace of mind, however, when first amendment rights stand to be updated, the decision requires remarkable foresight and caution. The arguments in Case 09-751, Snyder v. Phelps frequently reference the precedent case of Hustler v. Falwell. The supreme court overturned the appellate court decision, and ruled in favor of upholding Hustler Magazine’s right to make statements (although outrageous and malign) against an established public figure; Falwell. Mr. Summers, the petitioner in Snyder v. Phelps, asserts that private and public figures must be treated differently. In the case of Snyder v. Phelps, the deliberate defamation of the deceased 20 year old marine ...view middle of the document...
The Westboro Baptist Church defamed him, and caused grievance to his family after his passing simply because of who he was. This abhorrence for him, expressed by signs reading “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “You’re Going to Hell”, should be treated as messages of hate (Snyder v. Phelps, 9). This breed of hatred is no different than that of the KKK toward African Americans or that of Anti-Semites toward Jews, and should be regarded accordingly. The Westboro Baptist Church clearly understood that their behavior was malicious and intended to cause emotional distress, due to the fact that they chose to ostracize the target, a grieving father, to maximize publicity. They knew that their cause would be propelled into the limelight because of the heinous nature of their injustices. Measures should be taken to ensure the civil liberties of the grieving father are maintained and that similar protests should be deemed unconstitutional. Although the right to assembly, and the right to free speech are guaranteed in the bill of rights, natural law tells us these rights should be limited, if they impede the rights of others. Albert Snyder had every right to peacefully mourn the death of his son, without the knowledge that he was blatantly being defamed on the internet, and in print fliers. Additionally Snyder had the right to peacefully assemble with his loved ones at the funeral without being subject to a hateful and misguided protest. The grotesque emotional distress inflicted on Albert Snyder by the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church, obstructed Snyder’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and should be punishable by law.
1. "Hustler Magazine v. Falwell." U.S. Supreme Court Media, OYEZ.org. Illinois Institute of Technology: Chicago-Kent College of Law. 24 January, 2011. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1987/1987_86_1278>.
2. Snyder v. Phelps. No. 09-751. Supreme Ct. of the US. Argument transcripts. October 6, 2010. <http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/09-751.pdf>.