Dead Marine's Father Ordered to Pay.......

http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/03/30/westboro.baptist.snyder/index.h...



The father of a Marine whose funeral was picketed by the Westboro Baptist Church says an order to pay the protesters' legal costs in a
civil claim is nothing less than a "slap in the face."

"By the court making this decision, they're not only telling me that they're taking their side, but I have to pay them money to do this to more
soldiers and their families," said Albert Snyder, whose son, Lance Cpl.
Matthew Snyder, was killed in action in Iraq in 2006.

Members of the fundamentalist church based in Topeka, Kansas, appeared outside Snyder's funeral in 2006 in Westminster, Maryland, carrying signs
reading "You're going to hell," "God hates you" and "Thank God for dead
soldiers."

Among the teachings of the church, which was founded in 1955 by pastor Fred Phelps, is the belief that God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality" through events such as
soldiers' deaths.

Margie Phelps, the daughter of Fred Phelps and the attorney representing the church in its appeals, also said the money that the church receives from Snyder will be used to finance
demonstrations. But she also said that the order was a consequence of
his decision to sue the church over the demonstration.

"Mr. Snyder and his attorneys have engaged the legal system; there are some rules to that legal engagement," said Phelps, a member of Westboro who
says she has participated in more than 150 protests of military
funerals.

"They wanted to shut down the picketing so now they're going to finance it," she said.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ordered that Snyder pay more than $16,000 in costs requested by Westboro for copies of motions, briefs and appendices, according to
court documents.

In a motion filed in October, Snyder's lawyer, who is representing him for free, asked the court to dismiss the bill of costs, or, alternatively, reduce the 50-cent fee per page or charge
Snyder only for copies that were necessary to make their arguments on
appeal.

"We objected based upon ability to pay and the fairness of the situation," Sean Summers said.

The mostly pro-forma ruling is the latest chapter in an ongoing legal saga that pits privacy rights of grieving families against the free speech rights of demonstrators,
however disturbing and provocative their message.

Snyder's family sued the church and went to trial in 2007 alleging privacy invasion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and civil conspiracy. A
jury awarded the family $2.9 million in compensatory damages plus $8
million in punitive damages, which were reduced to $5 million.

Westboro in 2008 appealed the case to the 4th District, which reversed the judgments a year later, siding with the church's claims that its First
Amendment rights had been violated.

"The protest was confined to a public area under supervision and regulation of local law enforcement and did not disrupt the church service," the circuit court opinion said.
"Although reasonable people may disagree about the appropriateness of
the Phelps' protest, this conduct simply does not satisfy the heavy
burden required for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional
distress under Maryland law."

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case to address issues of laws designed to protect the "sanctity and dignity of memorial and funeral services" as well as the
privacy of family and friends of the deceased.

The justices will be asked to address how far states and private entities such as cemeteries and churches can go to justify picket-free zones and the use
of "floating buffers" to silence or restrict speech or movements of
demonstrators exercising their constitutional rights in a funeral
setting.

Both Phelps and Snyder's attorney said they were surprised that the 4th District chose to weigh in on the issue of legal costs when they could have waited until after the Supreme Court hearing.

Phelps believes the ruling bodes well for her side.

"It is a good harbinger of the fact that the Supreme Court will remind this nation that you don't have mob rule. The fact that so many people hate
these words does not mean you can silence or penalize them. That's
supposed to be the great liberty that we congratulate ourselves on
protecting in this nation. We strut all around the world forcing people
to give all the liberties we supposedly have," she said.

Phelps anticipated that a Supreme Court ruling in the church's favor would be unpopular, but she said Westboro's members viewed the potential outcome
in Biblical terms.

"When the Supreme Court unanimously upholds the 4th Circuit, it's going to put this country in a rage, and we will be expelled," she said. "But whenever it was time for an epic event in
the Bible, the thing that happened right before is the prophets were
removed from the land, and that's what's going to happen to us. ...
We're going to sprint to the end of this race."

Snyder claims he is unable to pay any legal costs in the case and is attempting to raise funds on his son's site, http://www.matthewsnyder.org/. He is equally optimistic
that he will prevail before the Supreme Court.

"The American people keep my spirits lifted a lot and give me hope. I think
most of the country is on my side on this issue," he said. "Too many
people have died to protect our rights and freedoms to have them
degraded and spit upon like this church does."

Tags: Westboro, court, free, speech

Views: 18

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Replies to This Discussion

I have to agree with Reggie here. Yes, they're assholes and I LOATHE the way they use their free speech rights. BUT, the true test of whether you believe in free speech is how you feel about speech that you don't like. Everybody supports free speech if they LIKE the message! Supporting free speech even when you HATE the message (and the messengers) is what's really tough. They have a right to say any retarded thing they want, as much as it sickens me.
Well put!
BUT, the true test of whether you believe in free speech is how you feel about speech that you don't like.

Great point, Galen.
You gotta love people. The world is full of stupid.
I for one am surprised that one of his Marine friends did not calmly walk over to the protesters and start bashing heads. Although all that shows is difference in character I suppose.
I'm afraid that this may in fact happen. If it does turn violent then that would only work in favor of the WBC. It feels like I'm eating dog shit but they have the right to speak their mind (hack, cough, oh the bile....).
Yep. I hate to say it, but Philip Pullman's answer to a Christian's question applies here, too.

Although the WBC is disgusting, they do have the freedom of speech and should not be censored.

However, I am confused about the court costs which the father is being forced to pay. Supposedly, the $16,000 is for "costs requested by Westboro for copies of motions, briefs and appendices." Does this mean that the WBC is charging the father for his legal bills? If so, then I don't understand this:

Margie Phelps, the daughter of Fred Phelps and the attorney representing the church in its appeals, also said the money that the church receives from Snyder will be used to finance demonstrations.

"They wanted to shut down the picketing so now they're going to finance it," [Margie] said.


What exactly is Albert Snyder being sued for? If it is strictly for legal costs incured by the WBC during the trial, then why are they claiming that the money will finance demonstrations?
Edit: Does this mean that the WBC is charging the father for his legal bills?

should read as:

Does this mean that the WBC is charging the father for their legal bills?
Yes.

They were charging quite a lot for these copies and other items. From what I read, the plaintiff's attorney was working to reduce those bloated fees.
But by saying that the money is actually going to fund future demonstrations, isn't the WBC basically admitting that the $16,000 is not to recoup debt from their legal bills? How is this not hard evidence that they are completely full of shit in suing the father? It seems like their demands for money should just be thrown out right there.
I'm not sure. I don't know enough about the case and the wife is too busy to look into these things for me. :-(

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