Father of dead soldier fights battle alone


The father of a dead Marine has been ordered to pay the legal costs of a preacher who picketed his son’s funeral.

Albert Snyder of Pennsylvania sued Fred Phelps, who taunts grieving mourners at soldier funerals, saying their deaths are God’s retribution for America’s support of gay rights. Phelps won the case on appeal and asked the court to force Snyder to pay the legal costs of defending himself. The court agreed.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, defining to what extent Phelps’ protests are protected by the First Amendment. But Snyder says he’s having trouble coming up with the money to file briefs in that case.

Phelps’ supporters also picketed the funeral of Andrew Kemple in Anoka in 2006. That led Minnesota lawmakers to pass a law making it a crime to disrupt funerals.

A federal court has blocked a similar law from being enforced in Missouri, and the Supreme Court last year refused to consider that case.

It’s one of the subjects we covered today on Fresh Eye on the Radio with Mary Lucia of The Current.

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(Photo: Johnathan Phelps holds signs during a protest by followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps, who claims soldiers have died because they fought for a country that condones homosexuality, in Shumway, Ill., Friday, May 19, 2006. AP Photo/James A. Finley)

  • hheimbuch

    So, where might one send a donation for Mr. Snyder?

  • Elizabeth T

    I’m all for Mr. Snyder morally squashing this group.

    Where do we draw the line for billing civil lawsuits? Is it automatic that the loser pays the legal fees of the winner? If not, who decides?

    What if some anti-abortion group gets cranky with me, while I’m picketing them and they sue me – do I have to pay their legal fees if I lose?

    I realize losing the case might be justice within the strict letter of the law … but still

    Is there some financial justice available to Mr. Snyder?

  • John

    Sometimes I wonder if Fred Phelps is not just a publicity hog. Maybe if he was ignored, he would go away.

  • BrianG

    @John: Other than insanity (also plausible) or outright malice, publicity seems the only explanation. He can’t possibly believe mourners are going to be receptive to his ideas when presented in this fashion, but the coverage it yields probably finds a portion of the target audience.

  • Opinionated_Dan

    … I’m sorry… but perhaps it is finally time to revisit “PC”? For a long time “political correctness” has been a shelter for the “left”. Now the “right” seems to be zeroing in… This man is no Pastor!! To add insult to injury – earlier today was the story about a “christian” militia near Detroit that planned to murder innocent police persons. They are not Christians. Perhaps it is time the news stopped delving out honorifics without proof of claim? If I called myself God, or Jesus Christ, and then went out and killed some people… would the news actually report that “God”, or “Jesus Christ” gunned down a dozen innocent people?? So why do we treat “Pastor”, or “Christian” with less care? Let’s stop the nonsense, the left 10% and the right 10% are not “Us”… reclaim the center folks!

  • Heather

    Huffington Post is reporting that Bill O’Reilly will be picking up those legal fees.