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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Supreme Court Ruling

Today the supremes ruled 8-1 against a father who sued a baptist church and won a 5 million dollar judgement against the protesters that have been harassing soldiers funerals for the last ten years. The supremes overturned the civil court decision on the basis of free speech. Is standing outside a cemetery with signs that read God Hates Fags, God Hates America, and other offensive slogans truly free speech?
1. Can the government charge the protestors with a crime?

The Supreme court ruled in the case of Skokie Ill, that the American Nazi Party could hold a rally in a town with a large population of Holocaust survivors and give speeches. The citizens of Skokie, however had the option of not going to the rally. At a funeral that is not an option. Arizona passed an ordinance before the funerals of those killed in that senseless attack last month that any protests would be held in a separate location away from the grieving families. They used the same law Bush set up so that he would not have to see any war protestors. Protests of this nature have not been outlawed, but are now regulated depending on state or city.

2. Can the family sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Obviously the supremes ruled today that you cannot bring a civil action against protestors of this nature. Why?

This is the law on Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress:

Cause of Action for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Eric M. Larsson, J.D.



• A prima facie case in an action for intentional infliction of emotional distress requires proof that:

1. the defendant's conduct was extreme or outrageous;

2. the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly;

3. the plaintiff suffered severe emotional distress; and

4. the defendant's conduct was the proximate cause of the emotional distress suffered by the plaintiff .


• Action may be brought by the person toward whom the defendant's conduct was directed and, under certain circumstances, by a person who was not the object of the defendant's conduct but who witnessed the conduct.


• Primary liability will be imposed against the person whose conduct caused the plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress.

• Other persons may be vicariously liable.


• Action may be brought in state court, or in federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.


• Action usually will be subject to limitations statutes that apply to personal injury actions.


• Compensatory damages are recoverable for the emotional distress suffered, bodily harm which results from the emotional distress, economic losses which result from the emotional distress or its physical consequences, and loss of consortium.

• Plaintiff may be entitled to punitive damages.

By this ruling the supremes have nullified this major part of defamation law. If this case does not fall into the category of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress what does?

The reason for civil suits of this nature is to maintain order in society. Instead of duels to defend a person's honor there are now lawsuits to settle the matter. It's not about free speech, it's about keeping people from killing each other when offended by the other persons speech.

On the CBS evening news the father who brought the lawsuit expressed this point very well. He said if the government won't protect the grieving families then they will and the blood will be on the hands of the Supreme Court.

There is a legal defense called "Fighting words." If someone says something to you that is so offensive that you can't control your anger and you resort to violence. It's justified and is considered self defense.


Unknown said...

This is very sad. The families deserve respect and privacy during their time of loss.

P M Prescott said...

A b s o l u t e l y