Lawmakers criticize military funeral protesters

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who won a Supreme Court ruling this week supporting their right to protest military funerals, are misusing their right to free speech, say Senate Armed Services Committee members Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska.

Julie Hasquet, a spokeswoman for Begich, told National Journal that while the senator "supports the First Amendment" he also believes "the protestors from Westboro Baptist Church are abusing their right to free speech and intentionally causing unnecessary distress for military families who have suffered incredible loss."

Manchin, who just returned from a trip to Afghanistan, agrees that the WBC protests are out of line, calling them "deplorable and despicable."

"He wishes that these people could see the bravery and patriotism of our service members in war zones-he's sure they would change their minds about these protests," said spokeswoman Emily Bittner.

Five years after Albert Snyder sued the WBC for their protests of homosexuality at his son's military funeral, the high court ruled in an 8-1 decision on Wednesday that the group has a First Amendment right to picket military funerals, no matter how "hurtful" the message. The group has made headlines over the years with signs like "Thank God for 9/11" and "God Hates Fags."

The Supreme Court ruling has been met with controversy, and Snyder has even taken to television shows to say WBC protests could easily lead to violence. "Something is going to happen," Albert Snyder told CNN Thursday. "Somebody is going to get hurt."

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