Senate Democrats

Reid: Right Of Families To Mourn In Peace Should Be Protected

Washington, DCNevada Senator Harry Reid released the following statement today in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling against the family of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, who lost his life in Iraq in 2006. Sen. Reid led the effort on behalf of 58 U.S. Senators who filed an amicus brief in support of the family’s effort to stop protests by extremists at military funerals:

“I am very disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision to allow hateful extremists to attempt to sully the memories of heroes who have fought and died to protect this country, and to heap more hurt on already grief-stricken families. These families have only one chance to bury loved ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. They deserve the right to mourn without being subjected to the ugly signs and slurs of fanatics.

“Emboldened by this unfortunate ruling, the Phelps family has pledged to redouble its efforts to harass military families during their darkest hour. I call on faith leaders from all communities to stand with me to denounce hate speech, including the kind used by these protesters.

“Soldiers like Matthew Snyder sacrifice their very lives to protect the freedoms and rights guaranteed by our Constitution, including freedom of speech. But while Rev. Phelps and his followers have a right to speak freely about matters of public concern, they should not be allowed to hijack a private funeral as a vehicle for expressions of hate. I believe the law should continue to protect, as it long has, the rights of all private persons — including the families of fallen soldiers like Matthew — to mourn their loved ones at a peaceful and solemn funeral.”