Finally, there was no pre-existing relationship between Westboro's speech and Snyder that might suggest that the speech on public matters was intended to mask an attack on Snyder over a private matter. Snyder filed a diversity action against Phelps, his daughters—who participated in the picketing—and the church collectively Westboro alleging, as relevant here, state tort claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, intrusion upon seclusion, and civil conspiracy.
The District Court reduced the punitive damages award, but left the verdict otherwise intact.
Frisbysupra, at ; Madsen v. Albert Snyder testified: "They turned this funeral into a media circus and they wanted to hurt my family. A jury held Westboro liable for millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages.
He also emphasized that the protestors conducted themselves peacefully on public streets pursuant to police directives. Clarksupra, at Therefore, the Court held that the Phelps and his followers were "speaking" on matters of public concern on public property and thus, were entitled to protection under the First Amendment.
That does not mean that its speech should be afforded less than full First Amendment protection under the circumstances of this case. The Phelpses said that despite the verdict, the church would continue to picket military funerals. To demonstrate their beliefs, Phelps and his followers often picket at military funerals.
The placards highlighted issues of public import—the political and moral conduct of the United States and its citizens, the fate of the Nation, homosexuality in the military, and scandals involving the Catholic clergy—and Westboro conveyed its views on those issues in a manner designed to reach as broad a public audience as possible.