Supreme Court Upholds First Amendment
In one of the court’s major cases this term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision that the First Amendment right of free speech protects the Westboro Baptist Church members who protested at a military funeral (we blogged about the case, Snyder v. Phelps, in October). SCOTUSblog described the decision as a “resounding affirmation of the right to engage peacefully in speech, even terribly hurtful speech, on matters of public import,” and a statement issued by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a brief in support of the church members, reflected the same sentiments. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, however, felt differently.
As Reform Jews and American citizens, we can find strength in the fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution. We are sickened by the conduct of Westboro Baptist, and find it beyond offensive. Yet allowing such speech is, of course, the price of freedom. We must accept speech, even that which makes us most uncomfortable, in order to allow true democracy to thrive.