It was the first-ever verdict against Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian group based in Topeka that has protested military funerals across the country with placards bearing shock-value messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers."These protests are insane — not only hateful but also incoherent. (The dead soldier wasn't gay.) The tort claim was expectation of privacy at the funeral and for intentionally inflicting emotional distress.
They contend that the deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and of gays in the military.
Fred W. Phelps Sr., Westboro's founder, vowed to appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, in Richmond, Va.Graber's right.
"It's going to be reversed in five minutes," he said. This case, he added, "will elevate me to something important," as it draws more publicity to his cause....
"This was in a public space," [lawprof Mark] Graber said "While the actions are reprehensible, the First Amendment protects a lot that's reprehensible."