“No Man’s life liberty or property is safe while the legislature is in session”.

- attributed to NY State Judge Gideon Tucker

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Snyder Case & First Amendment Free Speech

The Snyder v. Phelps case has brought forth a wealth of arguments on both sides of the issue.

Because this free speech case involves a church funeral for a serviceman killed in action, the basic First Amendment principles have become blurred.

So much so that, as the Wall Street Journal notes,

"Forty-eight state Attorneys General filed an amicus brief in support of the Marine's father, arguing that non-media speakers should not be exempted from state tort law on First Amendment grounds. No doubt they'd love to be able to sue their political critics.

The government may not, however, expressly discourage protesters whose messages they find offensive.

The First Amendment is designed to protect even scoundrels like Mr. Phelps. Allowing concerns for emotional distress to carve out safe havens from protected speech would open the door to countless legal shenanigans, no reliable standards, and ultimately a chilling effect on political debate."

Just so. In today's environment, surely informed voters know that the least exception found which limits rights under the Constitution will, over time, be widened to be so permissive as to gut the clause or amendment in question.

Unpleasant as it may be, one has to want this case decided for Phelps and, thus, free speech.

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