In a big win for intolerance, the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for its vitriolic, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. troops, won an appeal Wednesday at the Supreme Court in a case weighing the constitutional rights of free speech and privacy. In an 8-1 ruling, the highest court in the land ruled that members of the Westboro Baptist Church had the right to promote what they referred to as broad-based messages on public matters, e.g. war. "Speech is powerful. It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and—as it did here—inflict great pain. On the facts before us, we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker," Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. Only Justice Samuel Alito dissented. The controversial church had been sued by the father of a fallen Marine, claiming the protests at his son’s funeral were tantamount to harassment and infliction of emotional distress. The Westboro Baptist Church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believes that God is punishing the U.S. for “the sin of homosexuality” in the form of, among other things, soldiers’ deaths.
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