Huffington Post , who are followers of Rev. Fred Phelps, head of the Westboro Baptist Church, shouted slogans against Ms. Edwards and held up signs suggesting that God once killed her 16 year old son as punishment for her political views and that her own death was divinely inspired.
This is not the first time Phelps and his group have protested at a funeral. In fact, they have protested at a few hundred funerals over the past 10 years. Their most famous protest is now an important case before the current Supreme Court, Snyder v. Phelps. The Court must decide if there should be any limits on free speech—even vile and offensive speech such as the words of Phelps and his followers. (Here is a link to the story from National Public Radio).
In brief, the case centers on Phelps's legal protest of Cpl. Mathew Snyder, who died in Iraq. When his family gathered to pay their last respects, they were confronted with picketers who showed up holding signs that read "God Hates Fags" and "You're Going to Hell." (They do not suggest that Snyder was gay. Instead, they hope to call attention to their larger message that the war is a reflection of God's judgment). The protesters did not crash the church, and in fact stayed within the grounds specified by local authorities—as they have at every other protest.
A lower court awarded a $5 million judgment against the picketers, but a federal appeals court invalidated that judgment against the picketers, concluding that even outrageous opinion is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech. They further ordered Snyder to pay Phelps's legal fees. Phelps sees his message as guaranteed by the First Amendment and insists that his views are an expression of his religious beliefs—that "boys are coming home in body bags. That's the punishment of God almighty upon this nation." Here is a short recording of the case as it played out in front of the Supreme Court. Click on the link below to listen without leaving the page:
Listen to Snyder v. Phelps
Should there be limits on free speech—or should the court preserve free speech even for the thought it hates?
UPDATE: "Justices Rule for Protesters at Military Funerals"