But not before the Spring Garden Township resident got in some parting words to Westboro Baptist Church, whose members say they believe military personnel like his son, Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, die to pay for America's tolerance of homosexuality.
Calling Westboro a “nut-job church,” Snyder said he's worried the members will continue to protest at other military services.
“We can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity,” Snyder said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference outside the York County Administrative Center.
Amanda Klinger of Washington, D.C. left, counter-protests members of Westboro Baptist Church in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in October before the court hearing in the Snyder v. Phelps case. The justices ultimately decided in favor of the Rev. Fred Phelps and his church in the First Amendment battle over picketing at military funerals. (John A. Pavoncello Photo)
No ‘common sense': He also had harsh words for the Supreme Court after eight justices ruled the church was within its constitutional rights to protest outside the 2006 funeral for Matthew, 20.
“I was very surprised,” he said of Wednesday's decision. “My first thought was that eight justices didn't have the common sense that God gave a goat.”
Snyder's attorney, Sean Summers, said they “fought the good fight” and that his heart was breaking while reading the justices' opinion that recapped what Snyder endured.
“We don't believe they died for someone to harass (families) at a funeral,” Summers said of Matthew's sacrifice.
“There's still men and women over in Afghanistan dying,” Snyder said. “And this court has no problem with the government sending our children over to these wars, sending them back in a body bag, and not even having enough respect for that dead soldier to be buried peacefully.”
With the court's ruling, “anything goes,” Snyder said. “Nothing's stopping Westboro from going to your daughter's wedding because they feel the Catholic church is bad.”
Fees may pile up: Summers said the $16,500 Snyder has been ordered to pay Westboro for legal fees is easily covered by donations in support of Snyder. The donors include TV personality Bill O'Reilly.
Westboro is pursuing another $100,000 in fees through the district court, Summers said. Snyder may pursue additional donations if needed, Summers said.
“It's been a long five years, and I'm ready to put this behind me and move on,” Snyder said. “I'll keep up any fight I have to for the veterans and for our military men and women.”
Snyder said his son, who died five years ago Thursday, would not have liked the ruling.
“He knows it affects all his brothers and sisters in the military,” Snyder said.
— Reach Andrew Shaw at 505-5431, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/ydblogwork.