New York Times, AP Side With Loathsome Funeral-Crashing Church in First-Amendment Dispute

In an extreme case of strange bedfellows, The New York Times, the Associated Press and 20 other media organizations have announced their support of the gay-bashing, funeral-crashing Westboro Baptist Church in a dispute over First Amendment rights.
The media outlets said in a Supreme Court filing that even though the Westboro Baptist Church, which protests the funerals of fallen U.S. servicemembers with signs that say things like “God Hates Fags,” is pretty contemptible, its actions deserve constitutional protection:

Most reasonable people would consider the funeral protests conducted by members of the Westboro Baptist Church to be inexplicable and hateful. Without a doubt, the church’s message of intolerance is deeply offensive to many, and especially so to gay Americans, Catholics, veterans, and the families of those who sacrificed their lives defending the United States. But to silence a fringe messenger because of the distastefulness of the message is antithetical to the First Amendment’s most basic precepts.

Stars and Stripes, a news service targeted at the military community, reports:

At the funeral of Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq in 2006, church members were nearby with signs that said “God hates you,” “You’re in hell,” and “Semper Fi fags.” They also distributed fliers with Snyder’s picture on it that read “Burial of an Ass.”

Snyder’s father sued the church and won at trial, but he lost an appeal and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in court costs. The case is now going before the Supreme Court.

List of the organizations that filed the brief after the jump.

• Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
• ALM Media LLC
• The American Society of News Editors
• The Associated Press
• The Association of American Publishers Inc.
• Bloomberg LP
• The Citizen Media Law Project
• Dow Jones & Company Inc.
• The E.W. Scripps Company
• The First Amendment Coalition
• The First Amendment Project
• The Hearst Corporation
• The Media Institute
• The National Press Club
• The National Press Photographers Association
• The New York Times Company
• Newspaper Association of America
• Newspaper Guild –CWA
• NPR Inc. (National Public Radio)
• The Radio Television Digital News Association
• The Society of Professional Journalists
• Tribune Company
(h/t Romenesko)