Bad facts make proper law. The despicable Topeka family that has used the occasion of military funerals to pursue its anti-gay and other agendas has won an 8-1 U.S. Supreme Court decision denying the award of damages to a family that sued over protests at their son’s funeral. The court said it is an abridgement of First Amendment rights to squelch speech on the ground that others find it unpleasant, even if painfully so. The context of the speech — a funeral — cannot change the public nature and content of the speech, the court said.
Only Samuel Alito dissented.
Still pending before the court are cases challenging limits that most states, including Arkansas, have adopted on demonstrations at funerals. Here, we’ve just expanded the law to let a family approve or disapprove of demonstrations closer than a football field to a funeral 30 minutes before, during and 30 minutes after a funeral. All of this legislating; all of these legal costs; all of this repudiation of the First Amendment in the name of squelching a handful of crackpots by ever increasing degrees. When this happens, the crackpots win.