Federal lawsuit filed against military funeral protesters

Federal lawsuit filed against military funeral protesters

[JURIST] The father of a fallen Marine has filed the first lawsuit [complaint, PDF] brought by the family of a servicemember against the renegade Westboro Baptist Church [WARNING: readers may find material at this church website offensive; Wikipedia backgrounder] of Topeka, Kansas, seeking unspecified damages for defamation, invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress relating to the protest led by Westboro at the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder [case website] in Westminster, Maryland. Westboro and leader Rev. Fred Phelps have staged several protests at military funerals, claiming US soldiers have been killed because America tolerates homosexuals. While a spokesman for Westboro stated that they are "exercising [their] First Amendment rights," the attorney for Albert Snyder, Matthew Snyder's father, said that there is no right to interrupt a private funeral. AP has more.

In a related development, funeral proceedings for Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin Adam Lucas will take place at Arlington National Cemetery [official website] Tuesday, the first military funeral at a national cemetery since President Bush signed into law [JURIST report] the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act [HR 5037 summary; PDF text] on Memorial Day. The Act, targeted primarily at Westboro, prohibits any demonstration within 300 feet of the entrance of a national cemetery and within 150 feet of an entrance into the cemetery for one hour before and after a military funeral. Members of Westboro plan to picket Lucas' funeral in accordance with the new law. Knight Ridder has more.