A federal judge has placed a lien on the church and law offices of the Westboro Baptist Church, as a result of the recent multi-million dollar lawsuit won by the father of an American soldier whose funeral Westboro picketed.
If the case presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett is upheld by an appeals court, the church, at 3701 S.W. 12th, and the office building, at 1414 S.W. Topeka Blvd., could be obtained by the court and sold, with the proceeds being applied toward $5 million in damages Bennett imposed on church members for picketing a military funeral.
A lien is a legal hold on property, making it collateral against money owed to a person or entity. It can keep the owner from selling the property or transferring title to the property. The $5 million penalty is the result of a lawsuit filed against three of the church’s principals by Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew A. Snyder, whose funeral was picketed by church members. The senior Snyder contended the picketing caused emotional distress and invasion of privacy. Westboro Baptist members regularly picket funerals of members of the U.S. armed forces, contending the deaths are God’s punishment for the country’s support of homosexuals.
As Pam Spaulding notes, the chances of the properties actually being seized are slim, as Westboro will likely prevail in their freedom of speech appeal on the $5M judgment.