Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney | Fred Phelps Pushed the Limits of Free Speech

Portner & Shure Law Firm Serving Maryland, Virginia & Washington D.C.

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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it" is often the mantra for those who protect First Amendment rights. These words are truer than ever with the passing of one of the most confrontational men in modern times.

As many across the United States sighed with relief upon hearing the news of Fred Phelps' death, we cannot deny that he pushed the limits of his First Amendment rights and helped define our rights as Americans. The Westboro Baptist Church is renowned for their hate speech and cruel protests against homosexuality, and in turn, AIDS victims. They believed homosexuality to be the downfall of America and, in turn, rejoiced in the deaths of soldiers fighting abroad in conflicts, seeing it as a punishment for the tolerant views of Americans. Phelps had an unwavering hatred for ministers who preached that homosexuality was a sin, but believed that God's love was greater than this sin.

With these radical views, Phelps created enemies at every turn. Many attempted to suppress his hateful words through the justice system, but the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled in 2011 that the First Amendment protects even the hatred preached by Phelps.