Westboro Baptist Church to protest Scalia's funeral.

Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Scalia’s Funeral, Exercising a Right He Voted to Protect

Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Scalia’s Funeral, Exercising a Right He Voted to Protect

The Slatest
Your News Companion
Feb. 19 2016 12:24 PM

Westboro Baptist Church to Protest Scalia’s Funeral, Exercising a Right He Voted to Protect

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The Westboro Baptist Church protests President Obama's inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013. The church plans to picket Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral on Saturday.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Westboro Baptist Church has announced plans to picket Justice Antonin Scalia’s funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., this Saturday. In a typically garbled press release, the notorious church—which mainly protests high-profile funerals, LGBTQ events, and Jewish groups—declared that Scalia “presently well knows and understands the folly and fatality of that Catholic Monster he spent his life time nourishing and worshipping.”

As it so happens, the Supreme Court affirmed Westboro’s free speech right to protest funerals in the landmark 2011 case Snyder v. Phelps. Scalia joined that decision in full and consistently affirmed the critical constitutional principle that the First Amendment protects even execrably hateful expression. Intriguingly, Westboro’s press release about Scalia’s funeral includes a note about Snyder. “Thanksgiving to God,” it reads, “for the great and miraculous deliverance generally known as the SCOTUS opinion in Snyder v. Phelps … an event on par with the sundry great miracles described in Holy writ”:

Not a day has gone by since that momentous decision was passed down that members of this church have not given profound thanks to God Almighty, in one form or another.

It would seem, however, that Westboro is directing its gratitude toward the wrong entity. 

Mark Joseph Stern is a writer for Slate. He covers the law and LGBTQ issues.