Fourth Circuit Decision in Snyder v. Phelps
jeffreyshulman at yahoo.com
Fri Sep 25 07:48:37 PDT 2009
Dear Professor Volokh:
I'm not sure how to post comments to Religionlaw, but I think this news will be of interest.
The Fourth Circuit has reversed a district court's judgment in Snyder v. Phelps, 533 F. Supp. 2d 567 (D. Md. 2008). At trial, a jury had found for the plaintiff on three tort claims (intrusion upon seclusion, IIED, and civil conspiracy) against the Westboro Baptist Church. The church had picketed the funeral of Matthew Snyder (the plaintiff's son, a soldier who had died in Iraq) and posted vitriolic commentary--I think that's a fair description--on its website. The jury awarded both compensatory and punitive damages. The Fourth Circuit held that the Church was entitled to constitutional protection because no resaonable observer would understand its speech to assert actual facts.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I filed an amicus brief on behalf of Albert Snyder.)
Legal Research and Writing
Georgetown University Law Center
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