11/09/2007 12:24 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Snyder v. Phelps $10.9 Million Damages Award for Hostile Picketing 1000 Feet from a Funeral:

I discuss the First Amendment questions raised by this massive award here. Sorry for linking rather than just including the material, but the discussion is quite detailed, and covers several posts (which are all available on the page I just linked to). Here are links to the individual posts, in case you want to focus on one or another of the items:
  1. Where"s the State Action in Tort Awards Based on Speech?
  2. Jury Discretion, Viewpoint Discrimination, and the Size of the Snyder v. Phelps Compensatory Damages Award:
  3. Funeral Picketing and Residential Picketing:
  4. The Phelpsians' Picketing and Fighting Words:
  5. Invasion of Privacy and the Freedom of Speech:
  6. The Overbreadth Doctrine and the $10.9 Million Funeral Picketing Case:
  7. The Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Tort and the Freedom of Speech:
My bottom line: Repugnant as the speech may be, imposing such liability based on the speech on the grounds that it's "outrageous" or "invades privacy" is unconstitutional. And while narrow content-neutral statutes barring picketing right in front of a funeral would likely be constitutional, no such statute was present here, and any such statute could not cover speech 1000 feet from the funeral.