[Guest post by DRJ]
The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka KS is well-known for its objection to homosexuality. Church members picket military funerals based on the belief that the war in Iraq is a punishment for the nation’s tolerance of homosexuality.
One grieving father whose son’s funeral was the subject of a protest sued the Church for invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Church claimed it was exercising its right to free speech. Today the jury returned an $11M verdict against the Church:
“Albert Snyder of York, Pa., sued the Westboro Baptist Church for unspecified damages after members demonstrated at the March 2006 funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq.
The jury first awarded $2.9 million in compensatory damages. It returned later in the afternoon with its decision to award $6 million in punitive damages for invasion of privacy and $2 million for causing emotional distress.”
The Judge noted that the size of the award for the compensatory damages alone “far exceeds the net worth of the defendants” according to financial statements filed with the court.