Supreme Court Decides on Military-related Issues

The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., have the right to picket funerals for service members killed in action. The 8-1 decision (Snyder v. Phelps) reversed a lower court’s finding that the group was liable for inflicting emotional distress on the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who died in Iraq. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor (Staub v. Proctor Hospital) of Army Reservist Vincent Staub, who sued his former employer for wrongful termination under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. Staub, a hospital employee, was fired in 2004 because of his military obligations. A jury found the hospital liable, but an appeals court reversed the decision. The Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s decision. Also on Tuesday, the Court found (Henderson v. Shinseki) that the deadline set up by the Veterans Affairs Department for filing supplemental disability benefits “does not have jurisdictional consequences.” (See AFPS report by Jim Garamone) (For more on Snyder ruling, see Los Angeles Times report)