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Westboro Baptist Church praises Supreme Court ruling permitting its protests at military funerals

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket in front of the Supreme Court
Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picket in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Oct. 6, 2010, when the court heard arguments in the dispute with Albert Snyder AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

(CBS/AP) TOPEKA, Kan. - A spokeswoman for the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka is praising a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the First Amendment protects its right to stage protests outside military funerals.

Leaders of the controversial Kansas-based church told reporters Wednesday they will "quadruple" the number of anti-gay protests at military funerals around the country in the wake of the ruling, ABC News reported.

"We are trying to warn you to flee the wrath of God, flee the wrath of destruction. What would be more kind than that," a fiery Margie J. Phelps, the lead legal counsel for the church and daughter of Westboro Baptist pastor Fred Phelps said. "We have not slowed down and we will not."

Wednesday's 8-1 decision upheld an appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment for Albert Snyder, who sued Westboro Baptist Church after it picketed the funeral of his son, Matthew, a marine.

Westboro Baptist's Margie Phelps said she expected the Supreme Court outcome, and said the "only way for a different ruling is to shred the First Amendment." Phelps is the lawyer who argued the case at the Supreme Court.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt says he's encouraged that the ruling is narrow in scope. But Schmidt also called it "a disappointment for Kansans who have endured for so long the embarrassment brought upon our state" by the church's conduct.

Click here for complete coverage of Westboro Baptist Church on Crimesider.