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Man Acquitted For Spitting On Member Of Westboro Baptist Church

Supreme Court Hears First Amendment Case On Protests At Military Funerals
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
A West Virginia man has been acquitted of battery charges for spitting on a member of the Westboro Baptist Church during a protest outside a Catholic church in Charleston last year. Billy Spade told jurors that as the son of a deceased coal miner, he was offended by protesters holding signs that said “Thank God for dead coal miners.” But it was the sign that said “Thank God for dead Marines” that prompted him to take aim at Shirley Phelps-Roper’s sign and spit at it. Spade said a roadside bomb killed a friend who was serving as a Marine in Afghanistan. The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the Kansas church’s First Amendment right to protest. The hate group is known for picketing U.S. military funerals, believing the soldiers’ deaths are God’s retribution for America’s acceptance of gays and Judaism.

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