Funeral protest case forces a tough decision

Your reporter, Tricia Bishop, succinctly described the issues that dominated the Snyder v. Phelps argument before the Supreme Court Wednesday ("Protest Boundaries," Oct. 7). We attended the argument. The Justices' questions revealed their empathy and concern that a fringe religious group was using the First Amendment as cover for subjecting a private family to personal and hateful speech when they were mourning their son's death in Iraq.

As we walked out of the Supreme Court, we saw the Westboro Baptist Church protesters waving the signs shown in the front page photograph that accompanied your news article. To us, this scene was compatible with what the First Amendment protects, freedom of speech in a public place to the public at large. But it was a far cry from the funeral scene described during the argument. The difference between these two scenes is the line the Court must draw.

Derek J. Baumgardner and Francis J. Gorman, Baltimore

The writers are a student and adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

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