Snyder v. Phelps - The U.S. Supreme Court sides 8-1 with the 1st Amendment & freedom of speech!

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In a hugely important individual-freedom-friendly decision, the U.S. Supreme Court came down on the side of the 1st Amendment and free speech in the case of Snyder v. Phelps.

For the most part, the Vestigial Dinosaur Media (VDM, aka "MSM") has been a very real embarrassment regarding the story. For me, at least, there has been a total dearth of crucially informative facts. As may be expected, this dearth of facts has facilitated a whole host of incompetent and boring political commentary, most of which is dependent upon the particular agenda of any given self-perceived-as-brilliant pundit. For instance, until I read the 4th Circuit's Snyder v. Phelps decision, I didn't know that: "It was undisputed at trial that Defendants complied with local ordinances and police directions with respect to being a certain distance from the church. Furthermore, it was established at trial that Snyder did not actually see the signs until he saw a television program later that day with footage of the Phelps family at his son’s funeral." Apparently the Westboro protesters were more than 1000 feet away, and in compliance with police orders. Now THAT, combined with the fact Snyder apparently didn't even see the Westboro protesters' signs at or around the funeral, is a pertinent little tidbit of legal information, wouldn't you say?!

The very best way I know to get an education in the way the American "system" actually functions is to read U.S. Supreme Court decisions. In fact I have dozens of the historically most important cases linked to this website for exactly that purpose: self-education.

What I wanted to accomplish with this particular blog was to lay out as clearly as possible the reasons why you should go to the source and read the relevant documents for yourself instead of believing what a bunch of self-important, incompetent, agenda-driven, braying jackasses in the MSM had to say on an issue as important to the public as free speech and public protesting. To that end, I have linked several documents such as Snyder v. Phelps (US Supremes), Snyder v. Phelps (4th Circuit Court of Appeals), the U.S District Court's Memorandum Opinion cited as Snyder v. Phelps, 533 F. Supp. 2d 567, an Amicus Brief filed by the American Center for Law & Justice, a Cardozo Law Review article, and a Georgetown Law Review article. Against this backdrop of professional legal writing and opinion, I wanted to juxtapose various idiotic and constitutionally illiterate comments by various Goebbelsian propagandists in the VDM (Vestigial Dinosaur Media, aka "MSM"). That way, any sincere truth seeker diligent enough to read through the information provided will be able to decide for him or her self just how ignorant, incompetent, and unreliable the MSM so often is in trying to present this type of story.

In its Amicus Brief, on pp 14-16,the ACLJ said, "The Intrusion Tort Is Unconstitutional As Applied to Otherwise Lawful Speech In a Traditional Public Forum." "Here, Snyder bases his 'intrusion on seclusion tort' exclusively upon an orderly demonstration held on a public street. While this particular demonstration embodied an extreme lack of charity, it did not physically invade (or even disrupt with loud noises or intrusive lights) the funeral service itself." "That service, after all, was held inside a building. The impact of the protest upon that event was no more — and, under the circumstances, probably less — than the impact upon countless other events subjected to protests. Hence, the First Amendment precludes an 'intrusion upon seclusion' claim here." "It bears mention that at the same time the Phelpses were demonstrating, the Patriot Guard Riders and local school children were engaged in demonstrations supportive of Snyder. The key difference was the viewpoint and relative tastefulness of the respective groups. Thus, had the police arrested or obstructed one and not the other, it would have been a blatantly viewpoint based restriction on speech. Selectively to treat one group's message as an 'intrusion upon seclusion,' then, would be to import this same viewpoint bias through a side door."

In closing, the ACLJ, whose brief was filed "In Support of Neither Party", said, "It may well be that under a properly limited theory of liability, the Phelpses could be held liable for their celebratory picketing of a funeral. The district court, however, gave no such limiting instruction, leaving it instead to the jury to draw its own constitutional lines. The verdict therefore cannot stand in its present form. The decision below should be vacated and the case remanded for retrial with proper instructions confining the jury to the determination of facts, not law, and limiting any potential liability to matters not protected by the First Amendment."

That other groups were also demonstrating was conspicuously ignored by the VDM. Yet that, too, is a crucial little tidbit of information relative to the public making up its mind about the story, wouldn't you say?! Especially as it relates to manipulatively concocting an unconstitutional tort out of protected speech. In my opinion, that level of manipulativeness alone is sufficient reason to remove Judge Richard D. Bennett from the federal bench. Bennett served over 20 years in the U.S. Army Reserve and Maryland National Guard, and is a Major in the Retired Reserve1, and it is entirely logical, even probable in view of his rulings and writings, that he took personal offense to the Phelps demonstrators carrying signs that said things such as, "Thank God for dead soldiers", "Semper fi fags", "You are going to hell", and "God hates you". As pointed out by both the 4th Circuit and the U.S. Supreme Court, Bennett was fundamentally incorrect in his assessment of controlling 1st Amendment case law. In other words, Bennett was wrong AS A MATTER OF LAW. I can find ZERO excuse for that in a competent jurist and his clerk/s. Bennett might have taken a clue from Hustler Magazine v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), where a parody of Jerry Falwell having sex with his mother in an outhouse was ruled to be speech protected by the 1st Amendment, but in my opinion, judicial manipulators such as Bennett don't really care what the law is. They just want to manipulate a specific outcome to the case in question. That's why I believe he should be fired.

Unfortunately, long ago America's judiciaries anointed themselves with absolute judicial immunity from any consequences for using the powers of their office to do illegal things. Such official immunity is not in the U.S. Constitution. It is purely self-anointed, in other words: usurped. Well, as much as inappropriately arrogant judges want to diffuse accountability for their often anti-constitutional behavior, the American people don't pay their judges to routinely, even systemically, ignore the U.S. Constitution. That is why I believe America's out-of-control2 judiciaries are in desperate need of serious, radical reform. It will require an amendment to the federal constitution, because if Congress tries to do it, the Supremes would just holler, "Separation of powers!" don'tcha know. I have posted such a proposed judicial reform on this website.

In conclusion, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals said, "As the Court long ago emphasized: 'To persuade others to his own point of view, the pleader, as we know, at times, resorts to exaggeration, to vilification of men who have been, or are, prominent in church or state, and even to false statement. But the people of this nation have ordained in the light of history, that, in spite of the probability of excesses and abuses, these liberties are, in the long view, essential to enlightened opinion and right conduct on the part of citizens of a democracy.'" "Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 310 (1940). Because the judgment attaches tort liability to constitutionally protected speech, the district court erred in declining to award judgment [for the Westboro defendants — ed] as a matter of law."

In conclusion, the U.S. Supreme Court said (8-1), "Westboro believes that America is morally flawed; many Americans might feel the same about Westboro. Westboro’s funeral picketing is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible. But Westboro addressed matters of public import on public property, in a peaceful manner, in full compliance with the guidance of local officials. The speech was indeed planned to coincide with Matthew Snyder’s funeral, but did not itself disrupt that funeral, and Westboro’s choice to conduct its picketing at that time and place did not alter the nature of its speech." "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. As a Nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate. That choice requires that we shield Westboro from tort liability for its picketing in this case." "The judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is affirmed."

Because the trial judge was wrong AS A MATTER OF LAW, in my opinion, Snyder's appeal from the 4th Circuit was frivolous. Accordingly, I wouldn't have the remotest problem with Snyder (& especially his lawyer) being required to pay the Westboro defendant's costs and attorney fees.

When you read the FACTS of the case, it's just a wee bit different than the versions of the story the VDM tried to peddle, wouldn't you say? And screw altogether the manipulative scumbag politicians who want to weigh in on such a case before it has worked it's way through the courts to make political hay. They're just a bunch of wannabe cutesy pies who think they know something about politics and the law, and who want to affect the legal outcome of the case to fit their personal agendas. I absolutely hate that. The problem is the VDM doesn't give a damn about the truth, as pointed out by the 4th Circuit, they are merely irresistibly drawn to the emotion (and blood if there is any) of the struggle. It's "news" and boosts circulation and revenue — right?

One thing is certain. If you read the material I have linked to this article, you will have a very educated idea about how to conduct your own demonstrations in accordance with controlling constitutional case law!

Under construction . . .

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FOOTNOTES:

1. See http://www.mdd.uscourts.gov/publications/JudgesBio/Bennett.htm

2. See such books as:
Constitutional Chaos: What Happens When the Government Breaks its Own Laws (ISBN-10: 1595550402, ISBN-13: 978-1595550408), The Constitution in Exile: How the Federal Government Has Seized Power by Rewriting the Supreme Law of the Land (ISBN-10: 1595550704, ISBN-13: 978-1595550705), A Nation of Sheep (ISBN-10: 1595550976, ISBN-13: 978-1595550972), Lies the Government Told You: Myth, Power, and Deception in American History (ISBN-10: 1595552669, ISBN-13: 978-1595552662), by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. (See also Judge Napolitano's website.)
Men In Black: How The Supreme Court is Destroying America (ISBN-10: 0895260506, ISBN-13: 978-0895260505) and Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto (ISBN-10: 1416562877, ISBN-13: 978-1416562870), by Mark Levin. (See also Mark Levin's website.)
With Justice for None: Destroying an American Myth (ISBN-10: 0140133259, ISBN-13: 978-0140133257) and Give Me Liberty: Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century (ISBN-10: 0312245637, ISBN-13: 978-0312245634), by Gerry Spence. (See also Gerry Spence's website.)
How to Dethrone the Imperial Judiciary, by Edwin Vieira, Jr., (ISBN: 0975526413).
The Tempting of America: The Political Seduction of the Law (ISBN-10: 0684843374, ISBN-13: 978-0684843377), Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges (ISBN-10: 0844741620, ISBN-13: 978-0844741628), by Robert H. Bork.
Whores of the Court: The Fraud of Psychiatric Testimony and the Rape of American Justice (ISBN-10: 0060391979, ISBN-13: 978-0060391973), by Dr. Margaret A. Hagen.

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