Are the insensitive “Cretins of Westboro” really the fault of our Forefathers?

This week, in the case of SNYDER v. PHELPS ET AL, the U.S. Supreme Court proved one thing once and for all, our Forefathers made one huge mistake and in making it might very well have sowed the seeds that bode the end of this great nation. As used in this opinion the term “Cretin” is defined as “A stupid, vulgar, or insensitive person” and the term “Westboro” is used in the same context and with the same meaning as used by the Supreme court in its decision. The term “Cretins of Westboro (COW)” is a combination of both and, for what it matters, the Ole Seagull believes that our Forefathers, as unintentional as it may have been, enabled groups like COW to do what they do.

The decision relates to picketing by COW at the funeral of Snyder’s son, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder who was killed in Iraq in the line of duty. COW picketed at the funeral and according to the decision “..peacefully displayed their signs—stating, e.g., ‘Thank God for Dead Soldiers,’ ‘Fags Doom Nations,’ ‘America is Doomed,’ ‘Priests Rape Boys,’ and ‘You’re Going to Hell’…” Lance Corporal Synder’s father sued COW, based on Maryland state law, for their actions and won millions of dollars and sent the message to COW and others that their conduct must meet the standards of local state law.

When COW appealed the decision to the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals its “primary argument was that the church was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the First Amendment fully protected Westboro’s speech.” After reviewing the signs used and finding that COW’s “Statements were entitled to First Amendment protection because those statements were on matters of public concern, were not provably false, and were expressed solely through hyperbolic rhetoric” the Federal Court of Appeals reversed the decision. The case was appealed to the U.S, Supreme Court who upheld the actions of the Appellate Court saying, “Because this Nation has chosen to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that public debate is not stifled, Westboro must be shielded from tort liability for its picketing in this case.”

“Come on Seagull surely you’re not saying that the Forefather’s approval of the First Amendment guaranteeing the right of free speech ‘sowed the seeds that bode the end of this great nation.'”  “Absolutely not”. History and the early decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court testify that the First Amendment as originally passed by the Forefathers was, as with the case of the other nine amendments in the Bill of Rights, intended to restrict the actions of the Federal government not the individual states or their citizens.

“If that’s not the seed what is?” “Ok, you asked here it is, Article III of the U.S. Constitution.” Article III establishes the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal judiciary. It states, “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour.” This created a Federal Judiciary that is not elected and serves for life with no responsibility to the electorate as is required by the Legislative and Executive Branches of the Federal government.

In terms of the context in which the U.S. Constitution was written, the original role of the Federal judiciary was a subset of the limited role the Federal government was to play in the life of the individual states and citizens of the United States. Yet, history serves in solemn testimony as to how this seed has permeated, grown and been used by those with political clout, money and power to expand the influence and power of the Federal Government to infringe on the individual states and daily lives of every American in ways our Forefathers never envisioned.

In the opinion of an Ole Seagull, the Supreme Court’s decision in this case is yet another example of the results of a federal judiciary that is not elected, serves for life, and is without accountability to the citizens and interests they allegedly serve. The really sad thing is that it is the Supreme Court itself who, virtually unchallenged, has issued the very decisions that they say gives them the authority to involve themselves in every small aspect of our daily lives, all without accountability to anyone. It is what historian Lord Acton warned of when he said “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To an Ole Seagull that is indeed a fast growing seed that could well bode the end of this great Nation.

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