Audio: The case for and against picketing soldiers’ funerals

The U.S. Supreme Court today took a giant step — for it — forward. Starting today, the court is making available audio recordings of oral arguments at the end of the week in which they took place.

The oral arguments are an utterly fascinating give-and-take between lawyers and the justices.

The case that’s attracted the most attention this week has been the case of the Westboro Baptist Church, whose pastor and his family demonstrate at the funerals of soldiers because they believe they died as God’s retribution for America’s attitudes toward homosexuality.

At issue is whether the father of a Marine killed in Iraq can sue picketers who showed up at his son’s funeral with signs that read “God Hates Fags” and “You’re Going to Hell.”

One justice raised an issue of whether Americans have the right to put anything they want on the Internet. Another — Justice Scalia — noted that “fighting words” are unprotected by the First Amendment.

I’ve taken the liberty of separating the audio of the justices grilling both sides of the issue.

Atty. Sean Summers

“If context is ever going to matter, it has to matter in the context of a funeral.”

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Atty. Margie Phelps

“The words at issue in this case were people from a church delivering a religious viewpoint.”

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Summer’s rebuttal:

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