More than 40 senators have signed on to an amicus brief supporting the right of families to keep protesters away from military funerals.
The brief, filed today, argues that two federal statutes are indirectly at stake in a case expected to be argued before the Supreme Court in its next term. Albert Snyder, the father of a Marine who died in Iraq, is seeking damages from Kansas preacher Fred Phelps, who organized a protest during the funeral of Snyder’s son.
Those joining the brief include Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). At a news conference today with Snyder and advocates for veterans, Reid said lawmakers have an interest in the case because of their responsibility to aid soldiers and veterans.
“As we speak, we have hundreds of thousands of them now facing danger, whether it’s in Afghanistan or Iraq of the Korean peninsula,” Reid said. “We have a responsibility to take care of them, in the best way we can.”
Walter Dellinger, the head of O’Melveny & Myers’ appellate practice, wrote the brief with O’Melveny partner Jonathan Hacker and three associates. Dellinger said he took on the task at Reid’s request.
“There are two competing principles in this case — we all acknowledge that — freedom of speech and safeguarding private moments of private citizens,” said Dellinger, who joined Reid and Snyder at the news conference. “What this brief does is explain that those two principles can be reconciled.”
Click here (PDF) for a copy.