Freedom of Religion can not override Individual Freedom.US..

The Westboro Baptist Church picketing at the m...
Image via Wikipedia

I belong to Dissenting note.

Since when Funeral Place has become a Public Place?

National Debate does not give the right to any body to hurt others.

Wonder if TPM is not contravened in the Judgment.(Please see link at the bottom of the Blog).

A nearly unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech about public issues and upheld the right of a fringe church to protest near military funerals.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that the Topeka, Kan.-basedWestboro Baptist Church’s picketing “is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible.” But he said government “cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”

“As a nation we have chosen a different course-to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate,” Roberts said…..

Justice Samuel A. Alito was the lone dissenter.

“Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,” Alito wrote.

The case concerned Westboro’s picketing at the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, 20, who was killed in Iraq. The church – which is made up almost entirely of the family members of its founder, the Rev. Fred W. Phelps – picketed the 2006 funeral in Westminster, Md., carrying signs such as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God Hates Fags” and “America is Doomed.”

The church contends military deaths are God’s revenge for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality. Matthew’s father, Albert Snyder, sued.

Snyder argued at trial that the Phelpses had invaded his privacy, caused emotional distress, and violated his rights to free exercise of religion and peaceful assembly.

..A Baltimore jury awarded Snyder more than $10 million, which was cut in half by the judge and then overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond. A three-judge panel said that although the rhetoric used was offensive, it was protected as speech concerning issues in the national debate.



The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law “respecting an establishment of religion“, impeding the free exercise of religion, infringing on the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.


Free speech zones

Main article: Free speech zone

Free speech zones are areas set aside in public places for political activists to exercise their right of freedom of speech as an exercise of what is commonly called “TPM” or “time, place, manner” regulation of speech. Free speech zones are set up by the Secret Service who scout locations near which the president is to pass or speak. Officials may target those displaying signs and escort them to the free speech zones before and during the event. Protesters who refuse to go to free speech zones could be arrested and charged with trespassing, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. In 2003, a seldom-used federal law was brought up that says that “willfully and knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting” is a crime.[43][44]


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