Published March 30, 2010
The father of a Marine killed in Iraq whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters told Fox News he will defy a court order and not pay the protesters' appeal costs.
Albert Snyder, of York, Pa., told Fox News he does not intend to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps, the leader of Kansas' Westboro Baptist Church, which held protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's funeral in 2006.
"I don't think I'm going to be writing a check until I hear from the Supreme Court," Snyder told Fox News on Tuesday. "I'm not about to pay them anything."
The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder on Friday to pay Phelps. A two-page decision supplied by his attorneys offered no details on how the court came to its decision.
The decision adds "insult to injury," said Sean Summers, one of Snyder's attorneys.
Snyder is also struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court, his attorneys said.
The high court agreed to consider whether the protesters' message is protected by the First Amendment or limited by the competing privacy and religious rights of the mourners.
A federal appeals court dismissed the suit on First Amendment grounds earlier this month and threw out a $5 million award against the protesters, some of whom carried signs that read "God Hates You" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
A funeral for the fallen Marine was held in March 2006 in Westminster, Md. Snyder, 20, died from a non-combat-related vehicle accident on March 3, 2006, while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
According to a Web site created in Snyder's honor, his relatives filed the civil lawsuit against the Westboro Baptist Church to "bring an end to the reign of terror and abuse that they inflicted" upon grieving families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Using innocent children to deliver their twisted message of hatred and fear, the defendants in this suit have sought to attack the memory of our departed heroes, to strip their loved one of dignity, and to use abuse and intimidation as a tool for preventing surviving family members from reaching closure over their loss," the Web site read.
Click here to visit MatthewSnyder.org.
Cathy Menefee, Snyder's sister, told the Baltimore Sun in 2006 that her brother had an unwavering sense of responsibility that led to his decision to join the military.
"It sounds so cliche, but he died doing what he wanted to do," Menefee told the paper. "He always wanted to be a Marine."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.