Tuesday, March 30, 2010


It's not often that RedState and the posters at Democratic Underground agree, but I guess it's no surprise when the subject is Fred Phelps, and he's just dealt a dead Marine's father a legal defeat:

Lawyers for the father of a Marine who died in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters say a court has ordered him to pay the protesters' appeal costs.

On Friday, the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered that Albert Snyder of York, Pa., pay costs associated with Fred Phelps' appeal....

Lawyers for Snyder say the Court of Appeals has ordered him to pay $16,510.80 to Phelps for costs relating to the appeal, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review the Court of Appeals' decision.

They say that Snyder is also struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court....

"The Court of Appeals certainly could have waited until the Supreme Court made its decision," [Snyder attorney Sean E.] Summers added. "There was no hardship presented by Phelps."

... if his client doesn't have the money when Phelps requests payment the matter would go into collections. Snyder could lose his property or his wages, Summers said....

RedState blogger E Pluribus Unum notes that there's information about a legal fund at the site run in Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder's memory. Go there if you want to give.

E Pluribus Unum is wrong, however, about this (emphasis in original):

This is why the Senate 41 should block the nomination of every Obama court nominee at every level. Just simply block every single one. Because they are all like this, or worse.

Er, E? I've looked at the decision (PDF). The case was before a three-judge panel -- and two of the three judges were Bush appointees.

Judge Robert King was appointed by Bill Clinton, but Judges Allyson Duncan and Dennis Shedd were appointed by George W. Bush -- and, in fact, the nomination of Shedd, a former aide to Strom Thurmond, was held up temporarily in 2002 by Senate Democrats out of concerns about Shedd's record on civil rights.

I understand what McClatchy blogger Mike Doyle says here:

We often hear, with perhaps a tad too much sentiment, that a soldier has died to preserve our freedom(s). In this case, if the Supreme Court upholds the appellate decision, it can be fairly said that Matthew Snyder's death contributed to greater constitutional protections for free speech -- but only at the expense of immense family pain.

What Phelps and his crew do is protected speech, and has to be allowed in some venue. But it's also an ugly, repellent form of harassment, carefully aimed not at the prominent leaders of the society Phelps thinks is so decadent, but rather at the weakest, most vulnerable people who could -- by an extraordinary stretch of the imagination -- be regarded as appropriate targets for what's being said. Al and Matthew Snyder didn't do the things to society that get up Phelps's nose. A legal system that can't recognize targeting people like them as harassment is missing something obvious, and doing an inadequate job of balancing conflicting societal needs.

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