Jack Balkin has a very thought-provoking piece on Balkinization today. It begins:
The result in Snyder v. Phelps was not unexpected. But the Court’s decision, written by Chief Justice Roberts, has important implications for informational privacy law that many people, focusing on the antics of the Westboro Baptist Church, may have missed.
In his majority opinion, Roberts emphasizes the distinction between speech on matters of public concern and speech on matters of private concern. He adopts a broad definition of the former: speech is of public concern when it can “be fairly considered as relating to any matter of political, social, or other concern to the community,” or when it “is a subject of legitimate news interest; that is, a subject of general interest and of value and concern to the public.” The private lives of celebrities and politicians would seem to fall under that formula as much as would important issues of the day. Indeed, Roberts adds, “The arguably `inappropriate or controversial character of a statement is irrelevant to the question whether it deals with a matter of public concern.'”
Read more on Balkinization.