A Collaboration with University of Pittsburgh   

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.

Support JURIST

We rely on our readers to keep JURIST running

 Donate now!

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.