From The Volokh Conspiracy
Should speech lose constitutional protection when it is "outrageous" and recklessly or intentionally causes "severe emotional distress"? The Supreme Court is facing this question in Snyder v. Phelps, which was argued Wednesday. Its answer will affect far more speech than the repulsive statements of Fred Phelps, pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., and his followers.
Mr. Phelps's group believes that the deaths of American soldiers, including heterosexual soldiers, are God's punishment for America's toleration of homosexuality. The group often expresses these views at soldiers' funerals, including the one for Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006. Picketers in the vicinity of the Westminster, Md., service for Snyder carried signs with messages such as "God Hates the USA," "Fag troops," and "Thank God for dead soldiers." Later they posted a Web page condemning Snyder's family for not teaching him the supposedly correct religious beliefs.
Who is the Reverend Fred Phelps? (Take that Ash!)