Ruling didn’t endorse Westboro
In response to the March 4 letter “Hate speech crosses the line”: The U.S. Constitution does supersede the opinions of the people. Congress represents the will of the people. The U.S. Supreme Court represents the will of the Constitution. The people have their say in the Supreme Court through the process by which Congress approves nominations to the Supreme Court.
It was set up that way for a reason. It’s called checks and balances. This remarkable system is designed specifically so that the critical rights the Founders identified would not be stripped or restricted by the legislative or executive branches. We elect our Legislature; its members then make decisions and pass laws on our (the people’s) behalf. Sometimes, however, the opinions of the people and the actions of the Legislature do not fall in line with the Constitution. It is when these types of questions arise that the Supreme Court is consulted.
In the case of the members of Westboro Baptist Church, I share the majority of Americans’ opinion that they should not do what they do. I find it abhorrent and appalling and, if they were coming to my town, I would be exercising my own freedom of speech to speak out against them in a counterprotest.
However, the Supreme Court was correct in its decision. Although most of us — myself included — detest the disgusting message of Westboro Baptist, it is vital that we recognize the more significant question being asked in this case: Should our government be allowed to restrict our freedom of speech based solely on the content of a particular message?
As Americans, our resounding response to that question must be “No.” Our First Amendment rights cannot, and should not, be restricted simply because the vast majority of Americans disagree with that message. To do so would obliterate the meaning of the First Amendment, and would destroy the critical right to freedom of speech.
It is neither the Supreme Court’s responsibility nor objective to endorse any particular message. Its responsibility is to ensure that the laws and policies of the United States adhere to Constitution. By ruling in favor of Westboro Baptist, the Supreme Court was not endorsing its message; they were protecting the fundamental rights of all Americans to speak freely, and to protest publicly, regardless of whether the majority of the people agrees with them.
MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.