A federal jury in Baltimore awarded nearly $11 million in damages yesterday to the family of a Marine from Maryland whose funeral was disrupted by members of a Kansas-based fundamentalist church.As I have pointed out in the past, Phelps is a dyed in the wool liberal (except for this homosexuality issue).
One of the defendants said the civil award was the first against the church, whose members have stirred anger across the nation by picketing at funerals for service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, often carrying placards bearing virulent anti-gay slogans. The church maintains that God is punishing the United States, killing and maiming troops, because the country tolerates homosexuality.
Fred Phelps, pastor of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church, scoffed at the jury and the award.
"It was a bunch of silly heads passing judgment on God," he said. "I don't believe anyone in the courtroom knows what the First Amendment is. Religious views are expressly protected by the First Amendment. You can't prosecute a preacher in civil law or in criminal law for what he preaches."
Phelps said the church would appeal, and he predicted that a higher court would overturn the award "in five minutes."
Friday, November 2, 2007
Where's the ACLU?
A bunch of antiwar protesters get sued for being obnoxious, and lose. What about their free speech rights? And yes, I want the ACLU to be consistent, and defend these creeps, just to remind everyone that the ACLU's ahistorical notion of "freedom of speech" leads to repulsive behavior like this. From the November 1, 2007 Washington Post: