Va. Atty Gen. Takes Stand for Free Speech

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Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has decided not to join a court case against Westboro Baptist Church activists in Kansas who protest at soldiers' funerals.

Members of the church routinely gather outside the funerals of military service members killed in action. They believe the deaths of American servicemen and women are divine punishment for the nation's policies towards homosexuals.

Cuccinelli said his decision not to participate in the case came because protecting free speech includes protecting "lousy" speech.

The law suit involves a protest by the activists at a 2006 funeral for a Marine killed in Iraq.

"If people can be sued because other people don't like their speech and they take offense at it, the inevitable target of things like that are pro-lifers, anybody protesting a sensitive issue, you'll see it," Cuccinelli said. "And that's both sides of the aisle. Homosexual activists would be just as susceptible to those kinds of speech restrictions cause that's what it is."

Virginia already has a funeral protection law in place to ensure peaceful, solemn services.

"We're respecting the memories of those folks who swore an oath to the constitution too," Cuccinelli added. "It would have been politically easy to sign onto that brief, but it's not consistent with the purpose and history."

Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia have signed onto the brief.  The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to take up the case in October.

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