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'God is Hate': An interview with Margie Phelps page 5

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Date published: 10/9/2010


JW: I believe your case is a very important Supreme Court case. What do you think the court's decision is going to hinge on legally?

MP: The Supreme Court has never ruled on the privacy of a funeral, and so I could see where they would have some interest in doing that. But when they set their hands to do that, first you have to keep in mind you are going to be bound by the facts and not what anybody else says about this case.

The fact is that we were over 1,000 feet away if you go as the crow flies, almost 1,500 driving distance. We were out of sight, out of sound, and we had left before the funeral started.

So what they are going to have to do is take hundreds of years of law about privacy, captive audiences, reasonable time/place/manner restrictions [and discard them] as a whole to rule against us. There is no way around that. They would have to uproot. They have never found a privacy interest that far away.

JW: What about Frisby v. Schultz, the residential picketing case, where the court limited expressive activities? Do you think that they could extend that to funerals?

MP: Well, let's say they did. "Directly in front of" is the standard. Focused picketing is the question. We never engage in focused picketing anywhere. Never. That is not our modus operandi. Furthermore, Frisby gives residents a zone, a very narrow zone, of privacy if you are using it as a residence. If you hold a union meeting in it, you don't get protection. These funerals are not private events.

From the minute that soldier dies, every aspect of his life, death, burial, and funeral becomes public fodder. Politicians use those events to politic. The media use those events to tell sensational sappy stories. The military uses those events to hold patriotic pep rallies. The clergy use those events to mug for the cameras because they love to be greeted in the marketplace. The families use those events to have a big worshipfest--a public worshipfest of that dead body.

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