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Judge: State ban on protests at military funerals unconstitutional

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posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 12:31 PM
reply to post by Jessicamsa

Originally posted by Jessicamsa
What gets me is that these people are not even protesting the war. They are protesting homosexuality. So, why cannot these families file a defamation of character lawsuit against these people since they are there inferring/implying that the deceased was a homosexual when most of the deceased are not homosexual? Maybe if Phelps and his ilk lost a few of those lawsuits they would back off.

The family did. Here's the case.

They were initially awarded $5million by state courts. Phelps appealed in Federal court and the verdict was overturned.

From the docket:


2/4/2008 - Judge Bennett granted in part Defendants' motion for remittitur and cut the jury award down to $5 million, applying both federal constitutional and state common law standards. The courtleft the jury's compensatory damage award of$2.9 million intact but reduced the total punitive damages to $2.1million.

2/11/2008 - Phelps filed statement of intent to appeal.

9/24/2008 - The Fourth Circuit issued an opinion reversing the judgment of the district court and vacating the jury award. The appellate court found the Phelps' speech (both website and picketing) protected by the First Amendment.

Phelps actions do not legally constitute defamation.

Here's my earlier post on defamation and Phelps protests:

Originally posted by misinformationl
Phelps would not be convicted with defamation (libel and slander). Defamation in the U.S. is stating something as fact. So if the defendant simply states that he was not stating whatever as fact, but he was voicing his opinion, he is not guilty of legal defamation, period.

And as a lawyer, Phelps will defend his statements as they were his opinion.

Defamation law in the United States is much less plaintiff-friendly than its counterparts in European and the Commonwealth countries. In the United States, a comprehensive discussion of what is and is not libel or slander is difficult, because the definition differs between different states, and under federal law. Some states codify what constitutes slander and libel together into the same set of laws. Criminal libel is rare or nonexistent, depending on the state. Defenses to libel that can result in dismissal before trial include the statement being one of opinion rather than fact or being "fair comment and criticism". Truth is always a defense.

[edit on 17-8-2010 by misinformational]

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 12:39 PM
reply to post by misinformational

Ah, so if someone says 'it is my opinion that you are a homosexual' rather than 'this person is a homosexual' then it's okay?

It is a shame it was overturned. People should not be harassed in that manner.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 12:44 PM
reply to post by Jessicamsa

A necessary evil. Unless it can be proved that he was trying to make someone appear as a homosexual, they are just that - his opinions. This is exactly why defamation cases are so hard to win. When we start saying that he can't voice his opinions, we've allowed a very dangerous precedent.

[edit to add - by appear to be a homosexual, I mean by saying something like "His boyfriend admitted it to me"]

[edit on 17-8-2010 by misinformational]

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 03:11 PM
Threatening or inciting violent acts against named individuals breaks State and Federal Laws.

It breaks the ATS T+C.

So why are you putting yourselves in jeopardy for this?

Is Phelps really worth going to jail over?

No more violent threats or incitements please.

I won't tell on anyone though. Just saying. I am not a snitch. BUT You guys are breaking tons of laws here by merely promoting violence against someone you disagree with.

So you better be aware of the lines you are crossing with your rhetoric. Fair warning.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 03:22 PM
reply to post by muzzleflash

So why are you putting yourselves in jeopardy for this?

Is Phelps really worth going to jail over?

Generally speaking - of course not. But if I were attending a funeral of someone that sacrificed their life defending our nation, you better damn well bet that it'd be worth going to jail over.

It's the same as saying 'why violently revolt?' Generally that is ill-advised and not morally justified. But under certain circumstances, disregarding the laws governing is absolutely morally justified, although certainly not legally so (e.g. American Revolution).

Ensuring that those laid to rest and the ones grieving their lost would, in my mind, would be a morally justified reason to instigate violence (I personally wouldn't kill the guy, but he'd be walking away with more than his feelings hurt). That said, it would be legally justified for me to go to jail after that, and I would accept any punishment for violating the law.

It's all about standing up for what you, as an individual, feel is sound and moral. Sometimes there are hard decisions to be made that require greying the area.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 04:37 PM
reply to post by muzzleflash

I think this might fit the current thread.

It is my opinion that bad things should happen to them. LMAO


posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 05:03 PM
There are consequences for actions. Legal or not. The fact of the matter is Americans are abandoning their protectors. Soldiers are stripped of many rights to defend themselves here in the States. That is for your protection. Why are you not protecting them in kind when they are defenseless? What is disgusting is that there should be so many Americans at that funeral in support of the family of the Soldier that died for you, that the protesters are not even noticed. But there is not! What is disgusting is that America plays lip service to supporting their troops but when the rubber meets the road do nothing that is a major inconvenience for them. You leave them to fend for themselves when there limbs are blown off. I have seen a lot of things happen to people that deserve better. I watch people walk around in their happy world oblivious to the pain and suffering it takes for them to live in their bubble. I'm no more angry at those protesters than I am the undeserving public who doesn't really care. Look at the people who walk by when someone is dying in the street. Look how they just ignore them. This is America. This is a wake-up call to America, get it together before it's to late. These Soldiers are not going to keep dying for you.

edit, missed a word

[edit on 17-8-2010 by Seers]

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 06:19 PM

Originally posted by misinformational
This is a tough one. Phelps actions are obviously immoral and disgusting. I hate to think that religious bigots like Phelps are allowed to disgrace the funeral proceedings of one that lost his life serving his country. But can we allow the government to infringe on our 1st Amendment Rights? Wouldn't this just be precedent for allowing further infringement?

As much as it disgusts me to say, I think this judge made the right call. Perhaps though, there can be middle ground. Any ideas?
(visit the link for the full news article)

[edit - grammar]

[edit on 16-8-2010 by misinformational]

He didn't lose his life serving his country, he lost his life serving the greed of international corporations and private banking cartels. Everyone currently in the armed forces is, whether they know it or not, basically guilty of treason. Our military is in constant breach of US law, international law, and international treaties. They no longer serve the people of the US, but are aiding foreign interests. I believe that is treason.

[edit on 17-8-2010 by Son of Will]

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 06:52 PM
reply to post by muzzleflash

While the judge may say that Phelps may not be breaking any laws, his actions has the potential to incite violence and/or public disorder and these can, in itself, bring criminal charges.

During protests, it is not uncommon to be vocally heard and disrupt traffic patterns.
What Constitutes Disturbing the Peace?

Common actions that do not constitute disturbing the peace may include:

•Engaging in horseplay;
•Simply embarrassing someone;
•Merely annoying someone;
•Accidentally bumping into someone;
•Giving someone a gesture such as the middle finger, (sometimes even against a police officer).

However, if a person's non-violent actions are likely to incite violence or public disorder, criminal liability may apply.

I've watched this guy in action and if shouting over a megaphone is not grounds at a funeral is not grounds for criminal charges then we are on our way to living in an anarchist driven society.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Keep an eye on him an any of his followers and protest, picket and disturb their funeral proceedings.

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 07:45 PM
I say it time to take it one step more and set up protest at the Westboro Baptist Church.

Shut down the church functions with just the same things they do at other places.

it would be fun to see how long it took before the Westboro Baptist Church was in court to stop protest against them.

it would also be fun to see how the judge would react to videos of the Westboro people doing the same thing they were complaining about.

[edit on 17-8-2010 by ANNED]

posted on Aug, 17 2010 @ 08:15 PM
I read this the other day in the local paper. Living in Missouri I can say one thing. If they come to the wrong area to protest they most likely will not leave and they will never be found. I am not threatening them I am just saying some of the local boys in areas of Missouri are quite patriotic and care even more about respect for the dead. There is a lot of farm land in these areas and anyone who has been around pigs knows they eat anything they can get into their mouths.

As for my own personal opinion, I am at a bit of a crossroads. I believe there is a right to free speech but that they should have to use that right maybe in the town where the funeral is being held instead of at the funeral ground itself. Have a compromise of sorts. I am not saying I agree with the WBC wackos I think they are nothing more than media whores that seek to draw attention in hopes they can get someone else to be called a radical and get them into trouble. I find them disgusting, lacking in genuine care for any other than themselves, and truly a waste of good oxygen.


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