On March 2, 2011, the US Supreme Court ruled in Snyder v. Phelps that protesters at military funerals are protected by the First Amendment. The case originated when members of the Westboro Baptist Church were sued by Albert Snyder for picketing the military funeral of his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq. The Court heard oral arguments on the case in October 2010. Led by Reverend Fred Phelps, members of the Westboro Baptist Church travel around the country picketing military funerals, claiming US soldiers have been killed because America tolerates homosexuals. Several states, including Kansas, Missouri and South Dakota passed legislation banning such protests. In June 2010, 48 states filed an amicus curiae brief in the case of Snyder v. Phelps, supporting the right to ban funeral protests.
Learn more about the Westboro Baptist Church and the First Amendment from the JURIST news archive and read commentary on the protests from JURIST Guest Columnist Cristina Wells in Forum.