Much more detail at SCOTUSblog. This is telling:
[T]his case has about it the promise of rewriting a considerable body of First Amendment law.The quality of legal advocacy... is that meant as a laugh line? How did it happen that the work of upholding First Amendment rights is in the hands of Margie Phelps? I don't know the story, but it's not that the usual free speech defenders have failed to support these profoundly unpopular and ugly speakers. There are amicus briefs from the ACLU and from law professors in support of the Phelps group.
For a Court that so recently had refused to create a new exception to the First Amendment’s protection (so as to permit the outlawing of animal cruelty videos and films), the task of crafting a “funeral rights” exception to free speech doctrine may be a forbidding one. But for a Court hearing this case in the midst of war weariness and an expanding fear of decaying morality, the prospect of drawing a First Amendment shield around the Westboro Baptists’ message may also be a daunting one.
Perhaps this is a case in which the quality of legal advocacy, during oral argument, could make a difference. If one side or the other’s lawyer were to falter, for lack of seasoning at that demanding podium, it might ease the Justices’ decisional choice — but, then again, maybe not.
It will be interesting to see how Margie Phelps carries out her lawyerly task. Back in 2004, Michael Newdow argued his own case in the "Under God"/Pledge of Allegiance case and his nontraditional, passionate style seemed to work rather well.
Dr. Newdow, a nonpracticing lawyer who makes his living as an emergency room doctor, may not win his case.... But no one who managed to get a seat in the courtroom is likely ever to forget his spell-binding performance.I doubt if there will be any clapping for Margie Phelps. Or any dinner-table-style repartee. She's coming in from the other end of the God spectrum, and we shall see how that sounds.
That includes the justices, whom Dr. Newdow engaged in repartee that, while never disrespectful, bore a closer resemblance to dinner-table one-upmanship than to formal courtroom discourse. For example, when Dr. Newdow described ''under God'' as a divisive addition to the pledge, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist asked him what the vote in Congress had been 50 years ago when the phrase was inserted.
The vote was unanimous, Dr. Newdow said.
''Well, that doesn't sound divisive,'' the chief justice observed.
Dr. Newdow shot back, ''That's only because no atheist can get elected to public office.''
The courtroom audience broke into applause, an exceedingly rare event that left the chief justice temporarily nonplussed. He appeared to collect himself for a moment, and then sternly warned the audience that the courtroom would be cleared ''if there's any more clapping.''