According to today’s Supreme Court ruling, the controversial Westboro Baptist Church will be able to picket funerals. The 8-1 vote in favor of the WBC upholds an appeals court ruling that prevented the father of a deceased Marine from suing the church for $5 million.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the court’s opinion.
Roberts said free speech rights in the First Amendment shield the funeral protesters, noting that they obeyed police directions and were 1,000 feet from the church.
“Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and — as it did here — inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker,” Roberts said. “As a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”