Snyder v. Phelps





Snyder v. Phelps

In this case, Phelps was charged in the court of law for uttering words which were deemed to have caused emotional distress to others. After the determination of his case in the court of law, the plaintiff decided to appeal the case to the Supreme Court of United States. It was held that speech made in public places such as sidewalks should not be considered as a tort. It can not be liable for any emotional distress as was claimed. Hence, the conduct of Phelps during the funeral of one of his family members should not have been perceived to be targeting anyone. He never had any ill motive because he was just expressing his freedom of speech granted to him by the American constitution under the First Amendment.

He was not contravening any law because he was just acting within the amendment which gives him free to express his ideas both in private and public places. The same would apply to the statement he made during the funeral. Snyder wee not justified to appeal the case because Phelps speech had nothing to do with his position in the society. He did not interfere with anyone’s state of emotion. Any feeling which might have been made by the bereaved family must have been ill informed (Bates, T., 2006)..

The court ruling was not unfair because it was done after a critical analysis of the law. In his ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts categorically said that the defendant’s actions did not, in any way, interfere with the funeral arrangement as it had been arranged before. Even if it could be outrageous in a way, the court ruled that it was a picketing case. Hence, it did not disturb the memorial service at all. Meaning, the appellant had to lose the case because the court decided that Phelps be freed.

Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire

In this case, Chaplalinansky had been convicted in the Supreme Court of Hampshire for fighting words doctrine. As a follower of the Jehovah Witness denomination, he was perceived to be some how extreme in his preaching. Therefore, upon being warned for causing public disturbance during his road side preaching, he went ahead and hurled insults at Marshall. This made him be convicted in the court of law before appealing this case.

As used in this case, fighting word doctrine is the practice of using spoken words to express violence or hatred towards a certain target. In this case, the defendant had been charged with using abusive and insulting words to harass Marshal who was just enjoying his time in the streets. Upon being advised from causing commotion by his public preaching, Chaplinsky decided to tell him, ‘You are a God damned racketeer! You are a damned Fascist!’ This indicates that he was not happy with the way he had been criticized for his preaching. As a follower of the Jehovah Witness, Chaplinsky as appearing to be in opposition of most of the doctrines of the mainstream churches. Therefore, by telling Marshal such statements, it means that he was expressing his anger to him (Richard A., 2007).

I would like to agree with the court for convicting him. First, the hurling of insults is a violation of the freedom of speech provided by the First and Fourth Amendments of the American constitution. It can never be regarded as an expression of idea. Moreover, it is a contravention of the Hampshire law to intentionally address any offensive speech to any person who is in a public place. It is illegal since it can cause embarrassment and emotional torture to the person to whom it is directed. I agree with the decision of the court.

Works Cited

Bates, T. One Family’s Fight Against the Westboro Baptist Church. New York: AOL, 2006.

Richard A. Free Speech on Trial: Communication Perspectives on Landmark Supreme Court

Decisions. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press. 2007 pp. 85–99.