Fallen Marine’s father takes a cool $2.9 mil from the Phelps clan; Update: Reuters story refers to “gay Marine”; Update: Reuters removes reference; Update: $8 million in punitive damages awarded

posted at 5:08 pm on October 31, 2007 by Allahpundit

The sweetest part? The punitive damages, which is where the real money is, are still to come.

Albert Snyder of York, Pa., the father of a Westminster Marine who was killed in Iraq, today won his case in a Baltimore federal court against members of Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church who protested at his son’s funeral last year.

The jury of five women and four men awarded Snyder $2.9 million in compensatory damages. The amount of punitive damages to be awarded has not yet been decided. The jury deliberated for about two hours yesterday and much of today…

Specifically, he charged that they violated his privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional harm and engaged in a conspiracy to carry out their activities. The jury decided in Snyder’s favor on every count.

This will open the floodgates for the other families who’ve been protested by Phelps to sue and put him in the poorhouse, if the verdict stands on appeal. That’s the real test here. The tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress that Snyder won on hinges on “outrageousness”; a standard example is prank-calling someone to tell them their spouse or child was killed in an accident. It’s up to the jury to decide if the offending behavior is so beyond the pale that the perpetrator should actually have to atone by paying the victim money. Given the parties involved here, a sympathetic verdict was a foregone conclusion. The question on appeal will be whether the First Amendment protects Phelps from the IIED claim, with the Falwell case, which also involved IIED, sure to be cited as precedent. In that case Larry Flynt’s editorial cartoon about Falwell was ruled to be protected speech, but only because Falwell was a “public figure” for First Amendment purposes, which the Snyder family likely is not. The Court’s reasoning was that people have to be free to criticize public figures in order to engage in public debate; otherwise they’d live in fear of being hit with an IIED suit every time they said something harsh. Whether they need the same freedom to criticize the war by holding “God Hates Fags” signs outside a soldier’s funeral is another matter. Phelps will point to this language in the opinion in his defense:

“Outrageousness” in the area of political and social discourse has an inherent subjectiveness about it which would allow a jury to impose liability on the basis of the jurors’ tastes or views, or perhaps on the basis of their dislike of a particular expression. An “outrageousness” standard thus runs afoul of our longstanding refusal to allow damages to be awarded because the speech in question may have an adverse emotional impact on the audience.

If you take that seriously, all IIED claims should be unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds. The Court evidently doesn’t believe that’s true, though, because it declined to rule that way in Falwell, limiting its decision instead to cases involving public figures. Phelps’s only chance is to ask them to extend that ruling and now declare all IIED claims flatly unconstitutional or to argue that the Snyder family are limited purpose public figures for purposes of the analysis, which would strengthen the First Amendment defense. With a conservative Supreme Court and public sentiment overwhelmingly in the plaintiff’s favor, they’ve got a tough haul.

Update: Does Reuters have any basis for believing Matthew Snyder was gay, or are they just very stupidly assuming that based on the signs carried by Phelps family members at the funeral? The screencap, in case it changes:

snyder2.jpg

I looked around in the Baltimore Sun archives but didn’t see anything to support that claim.

Update: That didn’t take long. How ill-informed must they be not to know that the “God Hates Fags” crap is SOP for Phelps?

Update: Like I said, the big money’s in the punitives.

The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.

Interesting that the lion’s share comes from the privacy claim, not the IIED claim. It’s my understanding that the Phelps people followed the law and kept their statutorily mandated distance from the funeral itself. I wonder if that’s going to affect these damages on appeal.


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Good. Bankrupt the bastards, and if they can’t make it up, assess their signs as having monetary value and take them as well.

Free speech doesn’t apply to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. It doesn’t apply to open death threats. It also doesn’t apply to these mutants.

MadisonConservative on October 31, 2007 at 5:10 PM

God Bless Mr. Snyder and his family

abinitioadinfinitum on October 31, 2007 at 5:17 PM

Phelps’ motley hate crew intentionally caused emotional distress at a time period known to be an especially vulnerable time in a grieving families life.

Despicable just isn’t strong enough language.

Speakup on October 31, 2007 at 5:19 PM

As unlikely it will be, I truly hope the Snyders are able to collect every dime.

.

GT on October 31, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Usually I’m against these sorts of cases, but how are families supposed to get a funeral in peace while it’s still technically illegal to beat these idiots?

frankj on October 31, 2007 at 5:19 PM

This news makes my day. Three cheers for Mr. Snyder standing up to these idiots.

Retread on October 31, 2007 at 5:21 PM

This will open the floodgates for the other families who’ve been protested by Phelps to sue and put him in the poorhouse

A f’ing men! Please let it be so.

Zetterson on October 31, 2007 at 5:25 PM

Anyone want to take bets against that they will refuse to pay, then when they are trying to be served some kind of warrant something bad happens and they end up barricading themselves in a compound of some sort……

RW Wacko on October 31, 2007 at 5:29 PM

YESSSSSSSSS!

oakpack on October 31, 2007 at 5:31 PM

“bout time one of these law suits works for good instead of evil. Congrats.

Tony737 on October 31, 2007 at 5:32 PM

I am hopeful that this is a big step towards condemning and disallowing the open hatred that comes from the Phelps clan – and a step towards giving military families funerals in dignity and peace.

nailinmyeye on October 31, 2007 at 5:33 PM

I love the clip of the corner protest where the members are singing their version of God Bless America (“God Hates America”). Leave it to Baptists (Phelps’s heretical version notwithstanding) to have someone taking the high harmony!

Drum on October 31, 2007 at 5:34 PM

Let the lawsuits come. Even if they’re not all successful they at least have a chance of bankrupting those fanatics with endless lawsuits. I know they try to hide behind their Rights and Freedoms but I think they cross a line and they should be forced to pay for it.

Yakko77 on October 31, 2007 at 5:35 PM

A big factor is which appeals court this goes to. As long as it isn’t the 9th, which of course it won’t be, I think Mr. Snyder’s chances are fairly good for holding up on appeal. As much as I despise Phelps and his nutball crew of non-Christians and non-Baptist, the court still needs to be careful not to damage the rights of protesters. I believe that can be done because the actions of Phelps are so very egregious.

Maxx on October 31, 2007 at 5:35 PM

“Public Figures” are no more nor less protected by the Constitution than any of us mere peons.

The creepy sh!theads at that church should not fear being hit with an IIED lawsuit for expressing their views in a public venue, as despicable as they may be.

Sorry dudes…I’m siding with the church…I see this as a really painful test of Constitutional integrity.

Sticks & stones…

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:37 PM

Maxx,

This is headed for SCOTUS

bnelson44 on October 31, 2007 at 5:38 PM

I think they cross a line and they should be forced to pay for it

Problem is, that line is drawn differently for different people. If this is your standard, then the law will become corrupted by the arbitrary whim of man.

Treacherous ground…

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:39 PM

Yes, lets use the same tactics as the ACLU to silence those we don’t agree with. Then only the rich will have a voice.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 5:39 PM

This is headed for SCOTUS

Seriously? Quite right too…this is as important as the DC 2nd Amendment case.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:40 PM

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 5:39 PM

That’s a valid point. Isn’t anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of suing someone into the poor house for unpopular speech? After all, free speech only works if you’re willing to defend vile speech. Couldn’t someone just as easily sue Robert Spencer into the poor house for speaking his mind?

Enrique on October 31, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Isn’t anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of suing someone into the poor house for unpopular speech?

*raises hand*
that’ll be me ;-)

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:48 PM

Maybe they can take a lien against the church, foreclose and shut their hatred down. I don’t really expect them to collect anything but the Phelps had to hire a lawyer to defend them and for that I’m happy. Hopefully, this will open a floodgate of suits against them and defending them will bankrupt them.

Sue on October 31, 2007 at 5:48 PM

Isn’t anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of suing someone into the poor house for unpopular speech?

Typically, the answer would be yes. These people, no. Sorry.

Sue on October 31, 2007 at 5:49 PM

Yes, lets use the same tactics as the ACLU to silence those we don’t agree with. Then only the rich will have a voice.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 5:39 PM

This isn’t just about agreeing with or dissagreeing with the Westboro “Church”. Those fanatics cross a line and now it looks like they might have to pay and rightfully so IMO.

Yakko77 on October 31, 2007 at 5:50 PM

1. I agree with Enrique — what exactly did the suit allege? That some retarded, poor, radical homophobic people from Kansas went to his funeral and said mean things about the U.S.?

2. Please tell me that no one here believes these inbred mongoloids have any part of $2.9 million? They drive to these funerals in a 1974 Ford Fairlane station wagon…

Jaibones on October 31, 2007 at 5:52 PM

WBC = scum.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 5:53 PM

Yakko77 on October 31, 2007 at 5:50 PM

If we’re to take your highly subjective approach, then how can I possibly hope to have a priori knowledge of what, when and/or who I will offend with my speech?

Surely such a legal concept would be inherently chilling to free speech…?

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:55 PM

Had that been my son and his funeral they had targeted, they would have absolutely begged me to sue them instead of what I would have done.

commonsensehoosier on October 31, 2007 at 5:57 PM

FWIW, I think that a righteous soul should hose these cretins down with liquid manure from a truck next time they protest.

What jury would convict?

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:59 PM

Yes, lets use the same tactics as the ACLU to silence those we don’t agree with. Then only the rich will have a voice.

That’s not what this case is about.

Should I have a right to stand on the sidewalk outside your house and yell “You’ll burn in hell!” every time you or your 3-year-old child walk out the door?

That’s what this case is about. Just because I have to right to express my opinion doesn’t mean I have the right to express it anywhere, at any time, in all circumstances. There are already specific limitations in place. I’m comfortable with specifically limiting protests at funerals.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 5:59 PM

It’s still hard for me to believe that no one’s ever used the Phelps clan for target practice – or at least for some heavy smacking around. I suspect that in another age, they wouldn’t have dared even to joke very loudly about such atrocious behavior.

CK MacLeod on October 31, 2007 at 6:01 PM

commonsensehoosier on October 31, 2007 at 5:57 PM

Exactly. They have the legal right to say anything they want, but if they say it at your son’s military funeral they might very well be greeted with 16 rounds of buckshot.

Jaibones on October 31, 2007 at 6:02 PM

Ochlan,

I’n not a lawyer (thank G-d!) but wasn’t this an invasion of privacy, libel, and emotional distress case above all else?

The First Amendment does not give one the right to impugn someone else’s character, and so forth.

The courtroom fight came down to whether Westboro had a legal right to demonstrate at the March 2006 funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder or whether the protestors crossed the line because their message impugned the grieving family’s reputation and unlawfully invaded the Snyders’ privacy.

For the claim to be successful, the jury needed to conclude that the church’s actions at the funeral — and later, in a posting about Matthew Snyder on its Web site — were “highly offensive to a reasonable person,” according to the jury instructions…

Albert Snyder also claimed that the church’s actions were an intentional infliction of emotional distress. Under the law, the five women and four women of the jury needed to find that the church’s conduct was “intentional or reckless” to find for Snyder.

Do you deny that this was “intentional or reckless”?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:02 PM

I agree with Enrique — what exactly did the suit allege? That some retarded, poor, radical homophobic people from Kansas went to his funeral and said mean things about the U.S.?

The courtroom fight came down to whether Westboro had a legal right to demonstrate at the March 2006 funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder or whether the protestors crossed the line because their message impugned the grieving family’s reputation and unlawfully invaded the Snyders’ privacy.

For the claim to be successful, the jury needed to conclude that the church’s actions at the funeral — and later, in a posting about Matthew Snyder on its Web site — were “highly offensive to a reasonable person,” according to the jury instructions.

Albert Snyder also claimed that the church’s actions were an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The issue is not what they said. The issue is the manner in which they said it. If I go through New York killing people according to the seven deadly sins I can’t go to court claiming that it was an act of Free Speech. You can’t go to people’s funerals holding up “God Hates Fags” signs and not expect at least a bloody nose. It was an invasion of their privacy, and it was an intentional infliction of emotional distress. If they didn’t expect that they should have launched an insanity defense.

2. Please tell me that no one here believes these inbred mongoloids have any part of $2.9 million? They drive to these funerals in a 1974 Ford Fairlane station wagon…

They don’t. I think the damages are over the line too.

Keljeck on October 31, 2007 at 6:03 PM

Just because I have to right to express my opinion doesn’t mean I have the right to express it anywhere, at any time, in all circumstances

Errr…yes it does…pretty much.

I’m comfortable with specifically limiting protests at funerals

I’m not comfortable with that…and you don’t have veto authority over my rights.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM

Does anyone know – Is Ochlan from Kansas by any chance?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:09 PM

Something needs to be done before someone ends up getting seriously hurt or worse.

EnochCain on October 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM

Just a thought: Maybe know what the f*ck you’re talking about before spouting off. Try Google.

Gawd.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 5:59 PM

Yes, it is about free speech. And yes, you do have the right to stand on a public street and shout inane things at my house. The Supreme Court has upheld worse examples of extreme speech than shown here.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:12 PM

Isn’t anyone else here uncomfortable with the idea of suing someone into the poor house for unpopular speech?

Correction:
Isn’t anyone else here, who is not a student, uncomfortable with the idea of suing someone into the poor house for unpopular speech?

Wade on October 31, 2007 at 6:12 PM

WOW. Just caught the update above. I hope that the Snyder family sues Reuters now.

Of course they can always claim that it was Phelps’ defamation that confused them.

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:02 PM

wasn’t this an invasion of privacy

Invasion of privacy? The funeral is held in the open! The people were across the street holding signs and chanting! Did they intervene physically into the funeral proceedings?

libel

I think you may mean “slander” (unless you’re referring to the God Hates Fags placard)…but either way…what were they saying about the dead marine specifically? I don’t see any grounds for libel/slander here.

emotional distress

How do you ‘prove’ emotional distress? What does it mean? What form of injury is it? Highly subjective.

Do you deny that this was “intentional or reckless”?

I suspect so, but my suspicions are not sufficient. These people apparently believe that God hates gays so much he’s willing to inflict casualties on the military for allowing them within its ranks. They should remain at liberty to voice their opinion.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM

Again, if these people keep on its eventually going to end up with someone doing something worse than filing a lawsuit against them.

EnochCain on October 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:12 PM

Wade on October 31, 2007 at 6:12 PM

See my post of 6:11.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:14 PM

How ill-informed must they be not to know that the “God Hates Fags” crap is SOP for Phelps?

My guess is that didn’t have a clue. This is pretty much a non-story outside the military.

bnelson44 on October 31, 2007 at 6:16 PM

Does anyone know – Is Ochlan from Kansas by any chance?

lol no

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:11 PM

Brilliant retort. Dick.

Wade on October 31, 2007 at 6:12 PM

I’m not a student. You (mis)read a past post too literally.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:16 PM

The military is at war. America is at the mall.

bnelson44 on October 31, 2007 at 6:17 PM

Ochlan,

Have you read the articles that were linked in blue type above, dude?

Phelps was found to have posted defamatory stuff on a website. That is libel.

This was a civil case, not a criminal case. Emotional distress is “proved” in court all the time.

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:22 PM

Super excellent,the Phelps approach,or belief,is more
cult than religion,to watch these people parade,er protest
especially at a fallen soldiers funeral is surreal,and
must of been at a point of unbearable pain for the parents.
In a civilized society such as the United States,or Canada
there should be a zero tolerance for this kind of harassment
at any funeral.

canopfor on October 31, 2007 at 6:23 PM

Ochlan,
Have you read the articles that were linked in blue type above, dude?
Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:22 PM

I’ll assume that was rhetorical. I doubt he read anything except the headline. It’s a pain reading all those big words, dontcha know.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:27 PM

I get it. The ultimate point here is: In America it’s OK to spit on soldiers when their alive, but never after their dead, not even an unkind word is allowed. This, according to the Vet Admin, includes any mention of God.

11 Million dollars and counting for this act. How much did the Government give his family.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:29 PM

And yet Ward Churchill is still around “teaching”.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:31 PM

Emotional distress is “proved” in court all the time

I don’t deny that it has…I am saying that it is not a sound basis for justice, and arguably unconstitutional.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:27 PM

Grow up.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:32 PM

This question is for Zaire67 and all the other military hating liberals who read this. Is hanging a noose on a tree any worse than protesting at a soldiers funeral with obscene signs and yelling obscene things at the grieving family of the dead soldier?

SoulGlo on October 31, 2007 at 6:33 PM

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:29 PM

What kind of convoluted logic is that?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:33 PM

Okay, who forgot to close the screen door?

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 6:34 PM

And yet Ward Churchill is still around “teaching”.

Zaire67 on October 31, 2007 at 6:31 PM

He is? Maybe he’s “teaching” you and Ochlan Constitutional Law?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:36 PM

Ochlan, well argued. You have me thinking about this more. Everybody else, don’t get mad at Ochlan for challenging you. For those that didn’t get mad and argued with Ochlan about the law, good job as well.

Thanks for the read guys and gals. Good stuff.

Zetterson on October 31, 2007 at 6:41 PM

Hmmmm. Since Ochlan is arguing that “the funeral is held in the open” when it was held at a Roman Catholic Church, I’m wondering if Ochlan could be one of these clowns.

Happy Halloween.

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:41 PM

Ochlan,
Have you read the articles that were linked in blue type above, dude?

Sorry, I misunderstood you. I have not seen the website(s) where Phelps allegedly posted defamatory material. Reading the complaint does not reveal anything *specific* that I see as libellous. They allegedly posted material that essentially states the same position that they promote at their funeral protests – God Hates Fags etc. They mention the Snyders and criticize them for the way they perceive they raised their son. Lots of religious ranting and drivel. Lots of asserted opinion. No libel.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:45 PM

I have not seen the website(s) where Phelps allegedly posted defamatory material.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:45 PM

If you have not seen the website how are you able to draw conclusions about what was posted there?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:47 PM

SoulGlo on October 31, 2007 at 6:33 PM

I would argue that the noose is worse, as it represents a sinister threat of death by hanging. Making such a suggestion should be actionable…fines, not jailtime.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:49 PM

“Public Figures” are no more nor less protected by the Constitution than any of us mere peons.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 5:37 PM

Not true. Public figures have much less right to privacy than ordinary citizens.

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 6:49 PM

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:47 PM

I read the complaint. I trust that they literally copy’n'pasted the website text into their complaint.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:50 PM

Not true. Public figures have much less right to privacy than ordinary citizens.

Really? Why?

If I keep a journal in my bedside drawer, is it ‘more private’ than a similar journal in Paris Hilton’s bedside drawer?

What formula do you have in mind for the attenuation of rights in proportion to public exposure?

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:53 PM

I trust that they literally copy’n’pasted the website text into their complaint.
Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:50 PM

Have you heard of the “Print screen” function?

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:54 PM

You can’t go to people’s funerals holding up “God Hates Fags” signs and not expect at least a bloody nose. It was an invasion of their privacy, and it was an intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Keljeck on October 31, 2007 at 6:03 PM

Actually, I believe, it falls under something more disgusting that the law takes into account — Fighting Words.

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 6:54 PM

Okay, I have to take care of Halloween kidz coming to my door. Obviously Ochlan is confused and thinks that today is April 1st.

later.

Buy Danish on October 31, 2007 at 6:55 PM

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:13 PM

(1) There are four traditional forms of the invasion of privacy tort. The one the plaintiffs sued on here is called “intrusion upon seclusion”. Despite the name, it does not require physical intrusion into complete seclusion.

(2) The defamation claims were predicated on the Phelps clan’s web-based publication of statements about how the Snyders had raised their son to be an idolater/adulterer.

(3) You can prove emotional distress in a variety of ways. Expert testimony and receipts for psychiatric care are favorites. It is subjective, but that’s why we have juries who weigh evidence and make factual determinations.

Centerfire on October 31, 2007 at 6:56 PM

Really? Why?

If I keep a journal in my bedside drawer, is it ‘more private’ than a similar journal in Paris Hilton’s bedside drawer?

What formula do you have in mind for the attenuation of rights in proportion to public exposure?

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:53 PM

I think you ought to look into the legal status of Public Figures and U.S. Law.

“With respect to certain privacy rights, public figures – such as the President of the United States or Tom Cruise – have virtually no legal right to privacy.”

Right to Privacy and Public Figures

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Since Ochlan is arguing that “the funeral is held in the open”

I should have been clearer…I was not referring to the private (indoors) church service…where was the marine laid to rest?…the protesters were obeying the law *outside*. Did they enter the church and protest? I did not read that they did such a thing.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Would I be bead for hoping Janet Reno is in charge of enforcing the judgment?

see-dubya on October 31, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Ochlan, well argued. You have me thinking about this more.
Zetterson on October 31, 2007 at 6:41 PM

I assume that’s sarcasm or sock puppetry.

Ochlan has “argued” in the same sense as two 8-year-olds “argue.” What he knows about “Freedom of Speech” apparently consists entirely of those three words and their dictionary definitions.

For those of you who believe there are no restrictions on the constitutional right to “Freedom of Speech,” Google it. For those of you who believe there should be no restrictions on that right . . . go back to your Xbox. You’re a waste of DNA, and a waste of my time.

Whether WBC’s actions deserve $11M in damages is open to debate. I’m not going to waste my time arguing with anyone who believes WBC has or should have a right to do what they did. The 1st Amendment was intended for the same reason as the 2nd — namely, to prevent tyranny. It’s been stretched six ways from Sunday and has resulted in scum being protected from the natural consequences of their actions.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 7:02 PM

They should remain at liberty to voice their opinion.

Nothing precludes them from voicing their opinions. They can still make as much stupid noise as they did before. This was not about the first amendment. They just might think twice before doing it again at a funeral.

Sue on October 31, 2007 at 7:03 PM

[Just because I have to right to express my opinion doesn’t mean I have the right to express it anywhere, at any time, in all circumstances]

Errr…yes it does…pretty much.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM

At any time? Anywhere?

So, the cops were wrong for tasing the bro? He should have been allowed to continue?

That just doesn’t make sense to me.

nailinmyeye on October 31, 2007 at 7:03 PM

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 6:58 PM

Interesting read, thanks. This view of ‘privacy’ is precisely the sort of thing I consider as being terribly wrongheaded…but if this is the legal consensus, it does admittedly feel like I’m fighting the tide ;-)

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:04 PM

So, the cops were wrong for tasing the bro? He should have been allowed to continue?

lol let’s not start that one again

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:05 PM

Just because I have to right to express my opinion doesn’t mean I have the right to express it anywhere, at any time, in all circumstances]

Errr…yes it does…pretty much.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 6:05 PM

The SC disagrees with you. In fact, several SCs have disagreed with you.

Sue on October 31, 2007 at 7:08 PM

They just might think twice before doing it again at a funeral.

I do not consider a funeral to be sacrosanct to the point of voiding the 1st amendment, and the Constitution does not define our rights as being subject to such attenuation.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:08 PM

The SC disagrees with you. In fact, several SCs have disagreed with you.

I’ll bet they do.

And they’re wrong to do so.

It is possible for them to be wrong, y’know

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:10 PM

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:08 PM

As a matter of black-letter Constitutional law, you’re wrong. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that speech can be subjected to reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions, and that even content-based restrictions can be upheld given sufficiently-compelling justifications.

Moreover, the First Amendment has never been read to bar civil claims for invasion of privacy, defamation, or intentional infliction of emotional distress.

You are badly out of your depth, here.

Centerfire on October 31, 2007 at 7:13 PM

The point of the first amendment is to protect speech, even speech that we hate. They shouldn’t have to pay. The invasion of privacy thing I don’t know, were they on public property?

libertytexan on October 31, 2007 at 7:13 PM

For those of you who believe there should be no restrictions on that right . . . go back to your Xbox. You’re a waste of DNA, and a waste of my time

Since you have defined your position so absolutely, and offensively, you are no longer worthy of engaging in argument.

Asshat.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:13 PM

You are badly out of your depth, here

Sure feels like it ;-)

You misunderstand my position. I am not denying what *has* been decided, or what interpretations of the 1st amendment have been enshrined in so-called “constitutional law”.

I am arguing *against it*…I’m saying that they’re wrong. I am saying that I hope these damages are thrown out on appeal. I *hope*…but I expect that the majority will disagree with me and these nutty church folk will be bankrupted.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:19 PM

Holy schmoly, Ochlan — have you no shame? Whoops, that’s rhetorical. Have you no functioning synapses?

While admitting you haven’t read this and haven’t seen that, you belch your inane opinions all over this blog. When your bloviating ignorance is pointed out by a dozen people, you actually spend 30 seconds reading beyond the headlines and discover . . . golly gee! There are a few facts involved! But does that give you pause? No! “They’re wrong!” “I do not consider…” “…terribly wrongheaded…” Yeah, everyone else is wrong, that must be it. It’s not that you’re a moron. Can’t be. Nope.

Un-be-frickin’-leivable.

Splashman on October 31, 2007 at 7:19 PM

The point of the first amendment is to protect speech, even speech that we hate

Such a simple truth. It takes much cognitive dissonance to betray such a principle…and sadly we see it on display everywhere.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:21 PM

What a Halloween treat!

Jay on October 31, 2007 at 7:27 PM

The point of the first amendment is to protect speech, even speech that we hate. They shouldn’t have to pay. The invasion of privacy thing I don’t know, were they on public property?

libertytexan on October 31, 2007 at 7:13 PM

The point you are missing is that freedom of speech guarantees you the right to say what you think. But it does not free you from the responsibility or liability for what you say. If you yell fire in a crowded theater, you are going to jail. If you threaten someones life, you are going to jail. If you say things about someone in public that you know to be untrue you are libel for damages to their reputation. Nobody has the right to stop you from saying anything you want, but you can be held responsibly for the affects of what you say or publish.

doriangrey on October 31, 2007 at 7:30 PM

Such a simple truth. It takes much cognitive dissonance to betray such a principle…and sadly we see it on display everywhere.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:21 PM

As I told libertytexan freedom of speech is not freedom from responsibility for what you say or publish. Freedom of speech cannot and never has been deemed to allow your speech to cause damage to a person, their property or their reputation.

doriangrey on October 31, 2007 at 7:32 PM

The point of the first amendment is to protect speech, even speech that we hate

Such a simple truth. It takes much cognitive dissonance to betray such a principle…and sadly we see it on display everywhere.

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:21 PM

The principle is fine, but there are recognized legal limitations to the priniciple.

A few examples…

Freedom of speech does not cover flat-out lies (libel and slander). Freedom of speech does not cover fighting words. Freedom of speech does not cover threats or harrasment.
Freedom of speech does not cover clear and present danger.

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 7:33 PM

Now they need to sue Reuters!

conservnut on October 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

Ochlan on October 31, 2007 at 7:19 PM

Well, keep hope alive and all, but we’re talking about a jurisprudence that’s developed over at least the last fifty years. The odds of the Supreme Court saying, “Whups, we’ve been wrong all this time!” are so miniscule as to be not worth discussing. :-)

Beyond that, I’d suggest to you that you’re approaching this in a fundamentally wrongheaded fashion by focusing more or less exclusively on the speech issue. There are competing considerations and policies, and just as your right to swing your fist extends no further than the tip of my nose, your right to free expression does not permit you to invade the legally-protected interests of others. The First Amendment certainly has something to say about which interests of others are worthy of legal protection, but the First Amendment isn’t the only word on the matter.

Centerfire on October 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

I thought the point of the First Amendment was to prevent the Government from cracking down on political speech.

RushBaby on October 31, 2007 at 7:34 PM

Anyone want to take bets against that they will refuse to pay, then when they are trying to be served some kind of warrant something bad happens and they end up barricading themselves in a compound of some sort……

RW Wacko on October 31, 2007 at 5:29 PM

They have an iron metal fence surounding their “church”.

Lawrence on October 31, 2007 at 7:35 PM

Freedom of speech does not cover flat-out lies (libel and slander). Freedom of speech does not cover fighting words. Freedom of speech does not cover threats or harrasment. Freedom of speech does not cover clear and present danger.

eanax on October 31, 2007 at 7:33 PM

And it doesn’t cover “hate speech”… if this is something we can actually define.

What crazy uncle Fred Phelps does is more than just speech, it is hateful vindictive harrassment.

Lawrence on October 31, 2007 at 7:37 PM

doriangrey on October 31, 2007 at 7:32 PM

Exactly right, if the speech causes harm it is not protected. That has been established over and over. And that was the basis for this suit.

Moreover, if the police came and locked them up for this, there might be a basis for infringment of rights. This is a civil suit, a completly different animal.

conservnut on October 31, 2007 at 7:39 PM

served some kind of warrant something bad happens and they end up barricading themselves in a compound of some sort……

RW Wacko on October 31, 2007 at 5:29 PM

No problem they’ll just publish it in the newspaper. Warrant served!

RushBaby on October 31, 2007 at 7:40 PM

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