Mar 24 • 35M

Middle Finger to God

Do we have the right to hurl hateful invective at a private citizen?

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Appears in this episode

Matthew S. Schwartz
Michael Vuolo
Celebrating the accidental guardians of the First Amendment. For regular updates on the legal stories that shape our lives, visit unprecedented.substack.com.
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When Albert Snyder arrived for the funeral service of his son Matthew, a young Marine who died in the Iraq War, he was surprised by the noise and chaos that greeted him. Seven members of the Westboro Baptist Church — which believes that U.S. military casualties are a result of God’s anger at an America that embraces sin — were picketing the funeral, holding signs with messages like “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Snyder sued Westboro for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the Supreme Court had to decide: Does the First Amendment protect hurtful speech directed at a private citizen?