Supreme Court rules First Amendment protects church's right to picket funerals

Supreme Court rules First Amendment protects church's right to picket funerals

A nearly unanimous Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the First Amendment protects even hurtful speech about public issues and upheld the right of a fringe church to protest near military funerals.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote that the Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church's picketing "is certainly hurtful and its contribution to public discourse may be negligible." But he said government "cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker."

"As a nation we have chosen a different course-to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate," Roberts said. 

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