Snyder v. Phelps Decided

October 6, 2010

Whether funeral protestors who demonstrate on the public streets and in conformity with local law can be held liable for damages because a jury concludes that their speech was "outrageous."

The jury in this case awarded $10 million in damages on the theory that defendants had engaged in the intentional infliction of emotional distress by staging a funeral protest on the public streets and in conformity with local law that was meant to express their opposition to homosexuality. While disagreeing vehemently with defendants' stated views — and, indeed, having been the subject of their condemnation on other occasions — the ACLU amicus brief supports the judgment of the Fourth Circuit below, holding that the jury verdict was inconsistent with the First Amendment.

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