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. Journalism/history blogger: yorktownsquare.com. Author or co-author of seven York County, Pa., history books.
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