First Amendment Right to Free Speech
By ruling in favor of the Westboro church, the high court made critical fundamental eras. Though the high court relied so much on legal terms, ignoring the issue of morality undermined the reason why there was a controversy in the first place. Again the constitution that was used so strongly to support the ruling was applied separately. According to the first amendment, “”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Although this law exists to safeguard free speech it must be read in a way that it must protect the possible victims. In this case, this law protects the Westboro church as well as the mourners in Snyder’s funeral.
As much as the constitution grants the westboro the right to free speech, it also preserves the right to peaceful assembly. The high court in this case failed to identify the danger that the picketers posed to the mourners. Knowing too well that they funeral were taking place in a catholic church, the picketers carried placards suggesting that ‘Pope in Hell”. By all angles, the court could have found that these messages were provocative to mourners. The fact that the local law enforcement was prepared for the worst outcome proves that there was an imminent danger. The judges also failed to see the disturbance that the demonstration caused. By claiming that the Phelps had the right to stage their demonstration, the court claimed that a next door neighbor has the right to play blasting music so long as it within the room. It failed to see that if the next the other neighbor was in a peaceful study mood, the music would disrupt(Ross, 2011).
The court ruling disregarded the right to privacy. Every member who is non-public is protected from i)intrusion into ones privacy or one’s solitude, ii) disclosure of embarrassing private information to the public, and iii) publicity that puts him or her in false light to the public (Vile, 2006). Westboro parishioners clearly disregarded this right thus making it illegal. First Amendment Right to Free SpeechThe messages spread by the westboro amount to nothing but hate speech. It is a pity that the court did not find the messages communicated to be disparaging the character of the faithful. Knowing to well that catholic faithful have unreserved respect for the Pope, the Phelps went ahead to hoist placards reading ‘Pope is Hell”. Though the court ruled that their speech was intended for a wider population, Westboro were hurting the interests of every member of the funeral procession.
Just as the plaintiff had argued, the matter in court was not on a question of free speech but of harassment. When the bereaved were mourning and doing all the efforts to give their son or brother a heroic send off, Westboro were there pumping them with issues that were not of immediate concern to them. More so, the picketers carried messages that seemed to target the mourners. First Amendment Right to Free SpeechThe dissenting judge in this case was right when he observed that the freedom of speech does not warrant the “vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case” (Ross, 2011). One cannot fail to wonder; can’t the Phelps find a better place to carry out their campaign? The protestors can reach more people by using the both print and electronic media to pass their message.
Ross, L. (2011) Westboro funeral pickets are protected speech, High Court rules. Retrieved on Dec. 6, 2011 from FoxNews.com.
Vile, J. (2006). A comparison to the United States consistitution and its amendments. New York: Greenwood Publishing Group.