Today the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a tort suit arising out of protest activities by the Westboro Baptist Church. That group, which consists of members of a single family, has protested military funerals across the country. Their "argument" is that God is punishing America for its supposed tolerance toward homosexuals by killing its soldiers. The Church's activities have given rise to local, state, and federal laws limiting protests near funerals. The case under review involves the First Amendment implications of civil liability imposed for these protest activities.
The case is Snyder v. Phelps, No. 09-751. The question presented: Does the First Amendment preclude a lawsuit alleging invasion of privacy by intrusion upon seclusion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and civil conspiracy, filed by a father whose son, an enlisted Marine, died in the line of duty in Iraq, against a pastor and several of his congregation's members, based on a protest they conducted near the son's funeral and an Internet posting several weeks after the funeral specifically targeting the decedent and his parents?
I will have more to say about Snyder v. Phelps later.