Snyder v. Phelps (Dissenting opinion)


ALITO, J., dissenting

any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U. S. 568, 572 (1942); see also Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U. S. 296, 310 (1940) (“[P]ersonal abuse is not in any proper sense communication of information or opinion safeguarded by the Constitution”). When grave injury is intentionally inflicted by means of an attack like the one at issue here, the First Amendment should not interfere with recovery.


In this case, respondents brutally attacked MatthewSnyder, and this attack, which was almost certain to inflict injury, was central to respondents’ well-practiced strategy for attracting public attention.

On the morning of Matthew Snyder’s funeral, respondents could have chosen to stage their protest at countless locations. They could have picketed the United States Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court, the Pentagon, or any of the more than 5,600 military recruiting stations in this country.  They could have returned to the Maryland State House or the United States Naval Academy, where they had been the day before.  They could have selected any public road where pedestrians are allowed. (There are more than 4,000,000 miles of public roads in the United States.2) They could have staged their protest in a public park. (There are more than 20,000 public parks in this country.3) They could have chosen any
2 See Dept. of Transp., Federal Highway Administration, Highway Statistics 2008, Table HM–12M, statistics/2008/hm12m.cfm (all Internet materials as visited Feb. 25, 2011, and available in Clerk of Court’s case file).

3 See Trust for Public Land, 2010 City Park Facts, http://

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