Albert Snyder v. Fre Phelps

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Albert Snyder v. Fred Phelps On March 3, 2006, Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder died in Iraq in the line of duty. The funeral was put on by his father, Al Snyder, and held in Synder’s hometown, Westminister, Maryland. The day of the funeral, Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, decided to travel with six of his followers and fellow members of Westboro Baptist Church to picket the event. This group has attended many military funerals across the country, trying to spread their views. The Westboro Baptist Church believes that all military personnel are being punished by being killed because the military tolerates homosexuality. Phelps and his band of followers contacted the local authority and were placed at a location approximately 1,000 feet from the funeral service. They held signs reading “God Hates Fags,” “Thank God for Dead Soldiers,” “God Hates the USA,” and “Thank God for IEDs.” None of the picketers moved from the designated area, entered the church property or went to the cemetery. They did not yell or use profanity, and there was no violence used with the picketing. On October 6, 2010, Snyder filed a suit against Phelps and his fellow picketers in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland under the court’s diversity jurisdiction. Snyder alleged five state tort claims: defamation, publicity given to private life, intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy. The Westboro Baptist Church moved for a summary judgment, claiming they were covered by the First Amendment. The District Court granted in favor of Westboro Baptist Church, saying that the defamation and publicity given to private life claims could not be proved to be torts. Snyder claimed in court that his emotional distress was severe and he had fallen into a depression due to the
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