"Freedom for the thought that we hate": Why westboro had to win

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Justice OliverWendell Holmes' belief that the Constitution calls for the principle of free thought - "not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate" - was severely tested when the father of a fallen Marine sued members of the Westboro Baptist Church who picketed near his son's funeral service. Consistent with its traditions and precedents, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled 8-1 that the First Amendment protected church members' offensive speech from tort liability. In ruling as it did, the Court properly chose to consider only the case elements it was presented, refused to create a new category of unprotected speech, and in turn eroded the reach of intentional infliction of emotional distress in speech-related cases. "The Court is out of the business of creating new categories of unprotected speech. Get over it".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-173
Number of pages41
JournalCommunication Law and Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law
  • Communication

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