The U.S. Supreme Court has been a longstanding supporter of the basic tenets of the Civil Rights Movement. During the more than century-long civil rights struggle, the nation’s highest court has rendered favorable decisions on many issues.
Many of the congressional edicts would never have survived had it not been for the Court’s confirmation. But when this august body renders a decision that completely defies rational precepts, maybe it’s time to question some of its more recent rulings.
Eight of the nine Justices did just that when they voted for a recent very controversial Court of Appeals ruling. By now I am sure that you must be aware of the case of which I speak: the U. S. Supreme Court in Snyder vs. Phelps. Unless you have been hanging out on Mars or some other celestial body, you must have heard of this case and the havoc that it has raised in the legal and Christian communities.
A brief summary of the case is this: Matthew Snyder, a 20-year-old Marine, died in battle in Iraq. A so-called religious group known in the Kansas area as Westboro Baptist Church interrupted his funeral.
They have gained a reputation for literally interrupting funerals with loud, reprehensible, despicable speech. There were large printed signs declaring such things as “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “America is Doomed!”
The case reached the Supreme Court with Westboro Baptist Church laying claim on the First Amendment that protects freedom of speech.
Incidentally, it has been revealed that the Westboro group also picketed the funeral of Michael Jackson. Members also recorded a song titled “God Hates the World,” an adaptation of Jackson’s charity single “We Are the World.”
Regardless of how this case may sound to many regular people, including this writer, the legal community backed the winner of this case almost 100 percent. First of all, an eight-to-one decision of the Supreme Court justices is not a common occurrence in such decisions.
Further, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid joined 42 other U.S. senators with an amicus curiae brief not supporting the verdict. And the attorneys general of 47 states indicated their disagreement with the Supreme Court’s decision.
While I have the greatest respect for the U.S. Supreme Court and all of the freedoms that it has fostered and preserved for us over the years, I must respectfully disagree with its finding in this case. I cannot believe it to have been the intent of the founders of the Constitution to interpret the First Amendment as protecting the kind of invective speech that this group spews.
Matthew Little welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.