Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Oral Arguments in the Supreme Court

The oral arguments in the Snyder vs. Phelps case (the group from a "church" who have been protesting at funerals of soldiers) were heard at the Supreme Court on Wednesday 6th October 2010.
It is possible to listen to the arguments - with pictures of the participants provided by C-SPAN - here.

The active involvement of the Supreme Court Judges is to be noted. Each side has 30 minutes to present their case, and the questions from the Justices can take up almost all of that time! For further information on oral argument before SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) see here (particularly Rule 28).

Details of the facts - from the Citizen Media Law Project website -

The Westboro Baptist Church is a fundamentalist Christian church that contends that God kills soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan as punishment for America'stolerance of homosexuality and for the presence of gays in the U.S. military. The church operates a number of websites, including www.godhatesfags.com, on which it disseminates its rabidly anti-homosexual views. The church has gained notoriety for staging protests at the funerals of U.S. soldiers in order to draw attention to its message.

Albert Snyder's son, Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, was a U.S. Marinewho was killed on March 3, 2006 during active service in Iraq. His bodywas returned to the United States, and his family held a funeral forhim on March 10, 2006 in Westminster, Maryland.

Westboro Baptist Church pastor and founder Fred Phelps and members of his congregation picketed Matthew's funeral, holding signs expressing anti-gay, anti-American, and anti-Catholic slogans, including "God hates you" and "You're going to hell."

Westboro Baptist Church also posted an essay on its website entitled "The Burden of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder." In the essay, statements indicated that Albert and his wife “raised [Matthew] for the devil,” “RIPPED that body apart and taught Matthew to defy his Creator, to divorce, and to commit adultery,” “taught him how to support the largest pedophile machine in the history of the entire world, the Roman Catholic monstrosity,” and “taught Matthew to be an idolator.”

The transcript of the oral arguments is available here.