York, Pa.-based Web site tracking U.S. Supreme Court case, Snyder vs. Westboro

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Albert Snyder holds a picture of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, from the last Christmas the two spent together before the U.S. Marine was killed in Iraq March 3, 2006. This scene came during a news conference in which Albert Snyder, a York County, Pa., resident sued Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., after the group picketed his son’s funeral. (See additional photo below.) Also of interest: For years, York countians part of major court cases and York/Adams First Amendment case list grows and Marker explains Hanover’s Ten Commandments monument.
The narrative explaining Snyder vs. Westboro case on the new York Daily Record/Sunday News Web site begins like this: …


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Members of Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church demonstrated outside a Westminster, Md., church during Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder’s funeral service in 2006. Counter protesters, particularly the Patriot Guard Riders, stand behind them. (Photos by the York Daily Record/Sunday News.)

“Westboro Baptist Church, a Topeka, Kansas-based independent church led by the Rev. Fred Phelps, maintains that the death of U.S. service members abroad is God’s way of punishing the United States for its acceptance of homosexuality.
“A Spring Garden Township man, Albert Snyder, entered a court battle with the Kansas-based church after its protesters showed up outside the funeral for his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, in March 2006. Church members were 1,000 feet outside the ceremony, carrying signs with such messages as ‘Semper Fi, Semper Fags’ and ‘God hates dead soldiers.’ “

Thus began the sad story of freakist protesters going after the good name of a brave Marine that has ended in the Supreme Court.
Sadly, Westboro is choosing to exercise their First Amendment freedoms in this way.
The regularly updating site tells how the case got to the Supreme Court, bears links to key documents and tracks news coverage of this case from across the country. (Update: On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against Albert Snyder.)
At least two previous York County-related cases have gained landmark status after consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court- Pennsylvania vs. Prigg and Red Lion Broadcasting vs. the FCC.
This could be the most watched and clearly the most gripping. The Web site is a place to go to follow this already historic case.

About Jim McClure

Editor of the York Daily Record/Sunday News, ydr.com and its many digital products. East Region Editor, Digital First Media. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
This entry was posted in A civil action, Archives, all posts, Events, Explanations/controversy, For photo fans, Genealogy/research, Local journalism & Web, Pain & trauma, People, War. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to York, Pa.-based Web site tracking U.S. Supreme Court case, Snyder vs. Westboro

  1. DianneB says:

    God bless you, Mr. Snyder. Thank you for your son’s service to our country.

  2. CWA says:

    Thank God for men and women like Mr. Snyder, the Marine and the Marine’s father.
    I pray there are a lot more like them left in this country.
    I thank Lance Corporal Snyder for his service to our country, and pray the Supreme Court recognizes the right to privacy that a funeral and mourners, ESPECIALLY THOSE OF A FALLEN SERVICEMAN, have earned.

  3. Don T says:

    The arugument about Westboro’s right of free speech is a mute point and a waste of time to argue. The liberal courts have supported them too many times.
    What should be argued at the Supreme Court is that the 1st amendment gives them the right of free speech and protects them from government arrest but does NOT give them immunity from damages resulting from their free speech.
    The only question to be settled is how much is a reasonable amount for damages. $10 million may be excessive for any one case. It’s too bad he didn’t file a class action lawsuit. He could have gotten $100 million.

  4. Joe York says:

    Suppose that you wanted to roll back the first amendment in some way. How would you go about accomplishing this? One way might be to exercise your first amendment rights in the most universally abhorrent way, enraging as many people as possible. You defend yourself vigorously, but you keep doing it over and over. Maybe I should wear a tinfoil-hat to type this, but I don’t know any other way to make sense of what they are doing. We should consider that it is entirely possible that Phelps is intentionally doing this specifically to lose a case before the Supreme Court.

  5. John Eidsmoe says:

    Mr. Snyder, I share your sorrow over the death of your son and thank you for his service to our country.
    As a professor of constitutional law, I consider Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion the the most inadequately-researched and poorly-written Supreme Court decision I’ve read in a long time. God bless Justice Alito for standing alone and telling it like it is!
    I don’t know Phelps’s motives, but if someone wanted to make fundamentalist Christians look bad, I can’t think of a better way of doing it than by following Phelps’s example.
    God bless you,
    John Eidsmoe

  6. Connie M. Shaw says:

    Can anyone get word to Mr. Snyder to use the IRS
    tax laws against the Westboro Church. Does anyone know if they have protested on behalf of the church or if the church’s name is present on any posters they exhibit?
    go to IRS Publication 1828 and read ‘TAX EXEMPT STATUS’
    Since the church is made up mostly of the Phelps family and they are all attorneys, they probably know how to fight the law. I think ‘inurement and private benefit’ would apply to them since the family is the church. The church does not use donations for what would be church activities.Since protesting is not a church activity then they are benefiting by paying expenses with contributions. I believe the IRS should check into these people. Please tell Mr. Snyder or a good Samaritan lawyer to stick it to these people.
    “Private Benefit-An IRS section 501(c)3 organization’s activities must be directed exclusively toward charitable, educational, religious, or other exempt purposes. Such an organization’s activities may not serve the private interests of any individual or organization. Rather, beneficiaries of an organizations’s activities must be recognized objects of charity (such as the poor or distressed) or the community at large…Private benefit must be substantial in order to jeopardize tax-exempt status.” Therefore, either they are a church not practicing as a church, a private group using church funds, or a church group violating the rules of being a church. ’nuff said. Please tell Mr. Snyder. Thanks.(my opinion only-not my employer’s)

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