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Supreme Court Accepts Funeral Picketing, as Some Campus-Speech Advocates Had Urged

The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled, 8 to 1, that the First Amendment gives the Westboro Baptist Church the right to stage antigay protests at military funerals. Five of academe’s most prominent First Amendment scholars had joined the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a campus-speech advocacy group, last year in urging the court to issue such a ruling in the case. Their supporting brief warned that the court would “dramatically endanger free discussion at academic institutions” if it accepted the plaintiffs’ argument that speech should be denied First Amendment protection if it is directed at a captive audience, deemed “outrageous,” and found to cause emotional distress.

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