Amicus Brief in Snyder v. Phelps

I’m pleased to say that we’ve just filed an amicus brief in Snyder v. Phelps that I wrote on behalf of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and Profs. Ash Bhagwat, Marin Redish, Nadine Strossen, our own David Post, and me. As readers of the blog might gather, the brief argues that the Court should conclude that the multi-million-dollar damages award against the Phelpsians for intentional infliction of emotional distress and intrusion upon seclusion violated the First Amendment; its particular focus is on the damage that a contrary result could do to free speech on university campuses. (Snyder is the case involving the Phelpsians’ nasty anti-gay and anti-American picketing a 1000 feet outside a soldier’s funeral, and posting a Web site expressing views critical of the dead soldier; for more, see here.)

Many of the arguments are based on my earlier posts on the subject. Those posts led to a forthcoming Cardozo Law Review de novo essay on the subject, as well as my forthcoming short Iowa Law Review article on tort liability and the original meaning of the freedom of speech, press, and petition. And after I wrote those articles, I decided that it might be worth turning them into an amicus brief; and now it’s out.