Justices Rule for Protestors: Westboro Baptist Church Case – Essay Example
The paper "Justices Rule for Protestors: Westboro Baptist Church Case" is an outstanding example of a law essay.
The Westboro Baptist Church has a constitutional right to hold protests at funerals. The First Amendment clearly spells out the national commitment to free speech, including hurtful sentiments on matters of public concern. This is because the constitution of the US strives to protect and guard public debate. Restricting the Westboro Baptist Church from carrying out protests would amount to stifling public debate. Justice Roberts, who has handled cases resulting from the church’s protests, grounds his decisions on the First Amendment values. One such value holds that debate on public issues should be robust, uninhibited and wide-open (Liptak n.p.). In view of the First Amendment, the Westboro Baptist Church should be allowed to protest at funerals.
Nevertheless, there are certain restrictions that can be applied to such protests without infringing the statutes of the First Amendment. The constitution may allow the church to picket at the funeral but does not condone assault and disorderly conduct. This was illustrated in 1995 when the eldest grandson to the church’s top authority, Benjamin Phelps, was convicted of assault and disorderly conduct during one of the protests (Myers n.p.). The court determined that spitting upon a passerby constituted sufficient grounds for criminal liability on the part of the protestors. Therefore, although the First Amendment gives the Westboro Baptist Church leeway to picket, there is a restriction on how they should conduct themselves.
In short, the Westboro Baptist Church has been riding on the strength of the First Amendment. Justice Roberts has been drawing on the statutes of the First Amendment to pass judgments, which have always been in favor of the church. The constitution states that nothing should impede public debate on current affairs.