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First Amendment

Church on Trial for ‘Thank God For Dead Soldiers’ Funeral Protest

Posted Oct 26, 2007 9:36 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The father of a marine killed in Iraq is seeking damages from a church that sponsored a protest at his son’s funeral in a federal trial now under way in Baltimore.

Albert Snyder’s suit claims invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the New York Times reports.

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., contends God is killing soldiers to punish America for homosexuality. At the funeral for Snyder’s son, Matthew, protesters held up signs reading “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.”

Judge Richard Bennett told jurors they would have to decide “whether the defendant’s actions would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, whether they were extreme and outrageous, and whether these actions were so offensive and shocking as to not be entitled to First Amendment protection,” the Associated Press reports.

More on the Westboro Baptist Church in the July 2006 ABA Journal story, "Picket Fencing.


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