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Constitutional Law Keyed to Maggs
Snyder v. Phelps
Citation:562 U.S. 443 (2011)
Fred Phelps founded the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas in 1955. The church’s congregation believes that God hates and punishes the United States for its tolerance of homosexuality, particularly in America’s military. The church frequently communicates its views by picketing often at military funerals. Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq in the line of duty. Lance Corporal Snyder’s father selected the Catholic church in his hometown as the site for his son’s funeral. The Westboro congregation members picketed on the public land adjacent to public streets near the Maryland State House, the United States Naval Academy, and Matthew Snyder’s funeral. The church had notified the authorities in advance of its intent to picket at the time of the funeral, and the picketers complied with police instructions in staging their demonstration. The picketing took place within a 10-by 25 foot plot of public land adjacent to a public street, behind a temporary fence.
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