The Westboro Baptist Church, infamous for heaping misery on the mourners of slain soldiers and tragic victims, is celebrating a “win” after a federal court struck down a ban on funeral protests.
In a mixed ruling, Missouri’s 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ban on protests within 300 feet of a funeral but deemed unlawful a broader ban on protests “in front of or about any location at which a funeral is held.”
Westboro’s Twitter feed was quick to declare the ruling a victory:
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) April 26, 2013
Westboro frequently ends up in court arguing its First Amendment right to picket high-profile funerals. Toting signs with inflammatory messages like “God Hates Fags” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” the WBC thrives on controversy and swoops in to seize the spotlight, while blaming the untimely deaths on God’s hatred for homosexuality.
In the Missouri appeal, the church is represented by the ACLU. A 2010 essay on the ACLU website explains why the advocacy group goes to bat for these hateful holy rollers:
… you simply can’t blindly trust the government with the power to censor that the First Amendment grants all Americans, regardless of their views, the right to express themselves. The ACLU has defended the free speech rights of many types of groups, from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to the KKK. We don’t do that because we agree with either. We do it because we believe in the principle, and because we realize that once you chip away at one person’s rights, everyone else’s are at risk.