A small Kansas church that has gained nationwide attention for protesting loudly at funerals of U.S. service members will receive a Supreme Court hearing over their free speech rights.
The justices Monday accepted an appeal from the father of a U.S. soldier killed in Iraq over efforts to keep members of the Wichita-based Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating near memorial services and burials. The family of the Marine had won a $5 million judgment from the protesters, which was overturned by lower courts.
The church, led by pastor Fred Phelps, believes God is punishing the United States for "the sin of homosexuality," through events including soldiers' deaths. Members have traveled the country, shouting at grieving family members at funerals and displaying such signs as "Thank God for DeadÂ Soldiers," "God Blew Up the Troops" and "AIDS Cures Fags."