York County, Pa.’s, Albert Snyder holds a picture of him with his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. The photo was taken at the last holiday the two spent together, according to the York Daily Record/Sunday News. The U.S. Marine was killed in Iraq in 2006. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case, Snyder v. Phelps, on Wednesday, Oct. 6. 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.
A rare U.S. Supreme Court case involving York County or a York countian is set for Wednesday, Snyder v. Phelps.
It’s a wrenching case in which the father of a Marine killed in Iraq is taking on a sick church, whose members protested at his son’s funeral in Westminster, Md. If the father, a York countian, wins the case, some fear it would be at the cost of First Amendment freedoms.
The court will hear the case and probably will issue a ruling at some unknown future date. (Update: On March 2, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 against Albert Snyder.) By my count, this is the third York County case to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here are some links of interest explaining the case:
– For a Web site pulling the case together, visit: http://www.ydr.com/westboro.
– For more on previous Supreme Court cases, visit: Red Lion Broadcasting and Prigg.
– Comment on the case at The Exchange.
– For a news story summarizing the case, visit: What the Supreme Court sees in Snyder v. Phelps
– For Daily Record/Sunday News’ Opinion Page editor Scott Fisher’s column on often unlovable backers of First Amendment rights, visit: First Amendment Fighters.
– For newspaper’s position on the case, visit: YDR Opinion: Free speech on trial Wednesday in Snyder v. Westboro.
And here’s a chronology, prepared by the York Daily Record/Sunday News to bring it all together:
· March 3, 2006: Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, 20, is killed in a Humvee crash in Al Anbar province, Iraq.
· March 10, 2006: Matthew Snyder is buried in Westminster, Md., after a funeral at a nearby Catholic Church. The Rev. Fred Phelps and members of his Westboro Baptist Church stage a protest 1,000 feet outside the ceremony, including signs reading “Semper Fi, Semper Fags” and “God hates dead soldiers.”
· June 5, 2006: Albert Snyder, Matthew Snyder’s father, files a suit against Phelps and the Westboro Church in federal court, alleging church members violated the family’s right to privacy and defamed Matthew Snyder on its Web site. Westboro’s Phelps unsuccessfully tries to get the suit dismissed.
· Oct. 31, 2007: A jury rules in favor of Albert Snyder and awards a $10.9 million verdict, including $8 million in punitive damages.
· Feb. 4, 2008: A judge reduces the verdict to $5 million.
· Sept. 24, 2009: The Fourth U.S. Circuit court of appeals rules in favor of Phelps, overturning the verdict.
· March 8, 2010: The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear Snyder’s appeal of the Fourth Circuit’s decision when its next term begins in October. The remaining issues are invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
· March 26, 2010: Albert Snyder is ordered to pay $16,500 in court costs for copying and processing fees in his case against Westboro.
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