Federal jury orders military funeral protesters to pay $11M to father of Marine

Federal jury orders military funeral protesters to pay $11M to father of Marine

[JURIST] A federal jury awarded the father of a fallen Marine almost $11 million in damages Wednesday for harm caused by a Kansas Christian fundamentalist church's protests at his son's funeral. Albert Snyder filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] last year against Westboro Baptist Church [WARNING: readers may find some material offensive; BBC report] and three of its leaders after the church staged a protest at the funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder [case website], saying US soldiers have been killed because America tolerates homosexuals. The jury ordered the defendants to pay $2.9 million in compensatory damages for violations of Snyder's privacy, $2 million for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and an additional $6 million in punitive damages.

Westboro and its leader, Rev. Fred Phelps, have staged several protests at military funerals in recent years. In 2006, President Bush signed into law [JURIST report] the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act [HR 5037 summary; PDF text], prohibiting 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. AP has more. The Baltimore Sun has local coverage.