In the heated discussion of the Supreme Court’s consideration of the controversial Snyder vs. Phelps case, one aspect of the case is not getting a lot of attention and perhaps it should. Among those taking sides is a group of 42 Senators who have filed an amicus curiae brief on the side of the plaintiff and in opposition to the free speech rights of Westboro Baptist Church Pastor Fred Phelps and his crew of fanatical protesters.
While no reasonable person could condone Phelps’ behavior or beliefs, under the First Amendment to the Constitution, even those who hold bigoted and utterly reprehensible beliefs have a fundamental right to free speech which cannot be legislated away and should not be limited or negated by the ruling of any court. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.
This group of misguided Senators who are attempting to throw their weight around and influence the Supreme Court to rule against the Bill of Rights, have lost touch with the most fundamental principles on which our free society is founded. They seem to have forgotten that they swore an oath to uphold the Constitution and are choosing to pander to public sentiment when they should be standing up for our fundamental rights. Yes, no one likes seeing protesters at the funerals of soldiers, but those soldiers died to defend our rights and our Constitution and taking away those rights in their name is even more offensive than the misguided actions of these protesters.
Most of the Senators who signed the brief are Democrats, and I suppose we should expect no less from members of a party which has worked hard to degrade and diminish the individual liberty and Constitutional rights of our citizens in the last two years. However, I am personally offended that thirteen of these Senators are Republicans who have forgotten the fundamental principles on which the Republican party was founded.
Not all Republicans agree. In a recent press release the Republican Liberty Caucus asks “If these Senators stand in opposition to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in this case, then how can we trust them to respect our rights? Their oath of office requires them to defend the Constitution. They should not be asking the Supreme Court to violate anyone’s freedom of speech.”
The thirteen Republican Senators are: Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), Bob Bennett (UT), John Barasso (WY), Sam Brownback (KS), Richard Burr (NC), Susan Collins (ME), Mike Crapo (ID), Chuck Grassley (IA), Mike Johanns (NE), George LeMieux (FL), Jim Risch (ID), Pat Roberts (KS) and David Vitter (LA). Most of these Senators have a history of voting against individual liberty and the best interests of the people again and again. Republicans in Utah have already voted Bob Bennett out of office in the primary, rejecting his big-government. anti-liberty record. These other Republicans who also seem not to understand the Constitution should take this as a warning that they will be held accountable as they come up for reelection in the next four years.
I certainly hope that the Supreme Court will not be swayed by the arguments of these political hacks and will remember that when it protects Fred Phelps’ right to be offensive it also protects the right of every citizen to have and express their opinions, no matter how unpopular, without fear of interference or persecution.