A leader of the Westboro Baptist Church told reporters Wednesday that the congregation would "quadruple" the number of funeral protests in the wake of a ruling by the Supreme Court, which found that their controversial demonstrations were protected by the First Amendment, ABC News reports.
Margie J. Phelps, daughter of church leader Fred Phelps and legal counsel for the group, appeared defiant and emboldened by the high court's decision during an interview Wednesday.
"Let me tell you what this church does: Shut up all that talk about infliction of emotional distress," she Phelps said, in response to the claim by Albert Snyder, father of slain marine Matthew Snyder, which had provided the impetus for the lawsuit. "When you're standing there with your young child's body bits and pieces in a coffin, you've been dealt some emotional distress by the Lord your God."
The Westboro Baptist Church has repeatedly drawn controversy with its inflammatory picketing efforts, which often include bright signs displaying slogans such as "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God For Dead Soldiers." The congregation most recently drew fire in January for announcing that it would demonstrate at the funerals of those killed in the Arizona shootings, though it eventually backed down on plans to protest at the service of the youngest victim, 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green.
Phelps on Wednesday defended Westboro's practice as one that reflects their own religious beliefs, and not one that others should be allowed to view through their own "objective" standards.
"I very much appreciate the fact that I get to be the mouth of God in this matter," she told reporters.