Briefly noted

Members of Westboro Baptist Church, the antigay church in Topeka, Kansas, that protests military funerals, won a court victory September 24 when a federal appeals court overturned a $5 million judgment against it. The father of a marine killed in Iraq in 2006 sued Westboro pastor Fred Phelps and his church after they protested his son’s funeral with signs saying, “Thank God for dead soldiers” and “God hates America.” Judge Robert B. King of the Fourth U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, writing in the majority opinion, said the signs were “utterly distasteful” but addressed matters of public concern. “Notwithstanding the distasteful and repugnant nature of the words being challenged in these proceedings, we are constrained to conclude that the defendants’ signs and [statements on the church’s Web site] are constitutionally protected,” King said. The father’s lawyer, Albert Snyder of York, Pennsylvania, said he would seek to appeal to the Supreme Court.


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