Should Protests at Military Funerals Be Protected by the First Amendment?

Should hateful protests at funerals be constitutionally protected?

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The Supreme Court will hear a case in the fall involving anti-gay protests at military funerals. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., say that their demonstrations are protected free speech. But critics argue that the protests are not shielded by the First Amendment.
Edited by Robert Schlesinger


Timothy Zick
Professor at the William & Mary Law School and author of the book, 'Speech Out of Doors'

Free-speech controversies have often involved highly offensive and obnoxious expression: burning the U.S. flag, marching in Nazi regalia in a city populated by Holocaust survivors, and insinuating that a pastor had incestuous relations with his mother in an outhouse. But in each of these cases, the courts upheld the right to...



Walter Dellinger
Former acting solicitor general of the United States and attorney at O'Melveny & Myers in Washington, D.C.

In recent years, a family associated with a Kansas church has taken to organizing protests at the private funerals of fallen American soldiers around the country with hateful messages like "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Semper Fi Fags." Later this year, the Supreme Court will hear a case based on one such protest, concerning...


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