Freedom of Speech

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Snyder v. Phelps, 462 US 443 (2011) involved members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketing at the funeral of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder. Please read the decision by clicking on the case name and give a summary of the facts of the case, the issue, the Court’s decision and whether or not you agree with the court’s legal reasoning. In oral argument, Justice Scalia questions the applicability of the “fighting words” doctrine enunciated in Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568 (1942). Despite Scalia’s discussion, the doctrine is dismissed in a footnote in the majority opinion and barely mentioned in the concurring opinion. Please watch the video and answer these questions. 

**Please define and explain the doctrine.  Could/should it have been applied in this case?  Is there another analysis that the Court could have made which would result in a different outcome? Do you agree with the outcome of this case?  What other free speech cases has the Court decided and do you agree with them?

                                    

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