First Amendment Attorney to Represent Church in Defamation Suit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

First Amendment Attorney to Represent Church in Defamation Suit

Members of Westboro Baptist Church typically carry signs with slogans such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for IEDs," a reference to the roadside bombs used by insurgents. (Photo: AP) Members of Westboro Baptist Church typically carry signs with slogans such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for IEDs," a reference to the roadside bombs used by insurgents. (Photo: AP)

08/29/2006

WESTMINISTER, Md. (AP)- A church whose members protest at military funerals has hired a Maryland attorney who specializes in First Amendment cases to defend it against a defamation lawsuit by the father of a slain Marine.

Albert Snyder, of York, Pa. sued the Rev. Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church after church members demonstrated at the funeral of his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, and posted pictures of the protest on their Web site. Cpl. Snyder was killed in March.

Church members maintain that military casualties in Iraq are God's punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality.

Snyder's lawsuit, filed June 5, alleges church members violated the family's right to privacy and defamed the Marine and his family at the funeral and on the church's Web site. Phelps has denied any wrongdoing.

The church has hired Jonathan Katz, a Silver Spring lawyer, to represent it, The Baltimore Examiner reported Tuesday.

"Defamation lawsuits are totally incompatible with the First Amendment," Katz told the paper. "I represent people from the far left and far right and everyone in between."

The case had been stalled for several weeks while Snyder's attorneys sought without success to serve notice of the suit on the church and its members.

Sean Summers, one of the lawyers representing Snyder, said he is glad the church has hired an attorney so the case can move forward.

 

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