Supreme Court Summary Case: Snyder V. Phelps Research Paper

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Supreme Court Summary

Case: Snyder v. Phelps

Docket Number: 09-751

Petitioner: Albert Snyder

Respondent: Fred W. Phelps, Sr.

Facts of the Case:

The family members of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder filed a lawsuit against the members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Louisiana. The members of the church had picketed at Snyder's funeral. The family alleged that the church members were guilty of defamation, invasion of privacy, and intentionally inflicting emotional distress to the Snyders. The U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett awarded the family $5 million. The U.S. Court of Appeals said that the ruling violated the 1st Amendment right to religious expression.

Constitutional Issues in the Case:

The case was a discussion of the First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of religious expression, even in cases where the speech is perhaps distasteful.
The Decision of the Case:

The Supreme Court voted 8 to 1 in favor of Phelps. Judge Alito was the one dissenting opinion.

The rational of the opinion of the court:

The Court ruled that the First Amendment protects the protestors in this case. They stated that even though the people could be against what the protestors did and find it distasteful, they were protected under the First Amendment.

Reasons for Dissent:

Alito's dissent was based on the opinion that although freedom of speech and expression is protected by the Constitution, the amendment "is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case."

Significance of the Case:

The First Amendment has been part of the Bill of Rights since the creation of the Constitution in….....

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