Born 1929, Fred Phelps received his law degree from Washburn University in 1964.

But getting called to the bar meant finding a judge to endorse him.

According to the authors of Addicted to Hate:

“Six years before the bar, the ill-tempered reverend had already discovered the law was a perfect mattock-handle to punish the world outside his walls. Between 1958 and 1964, Phelps filed 14 lawsuits against his employers, his customers, Leaford Cavin (the Baptist minister who'd given him his new church), the radio station KTOP (Phelps had paid to broadcast for 15 minutes each Sunday morning, but then had his show terminated as too inflammatory), Stauffer Communications, former friends, and public officials.”

But the state bar of Kansas admitted him anyway.

In 1967, he incorporated the Westboro Baptist Church as a non-profit (the Internet URL of the church's website is

By 1969, he was in trouble with the state bar but he managed to escape with only a suspension.Fred Phelps

In 1973, he sued Sears for $50-million because a laid-away television set his son had bought on a lay-away plan was late for pickup. For six years, the litigation dragged through the Kansas courts. Phelps settled the case for $126.

Then, in 1977, he was again the subject of a complaint of witness badgering. The Kansas Supreme Court wrote on July 20, 1979:

“The record discloses that his cross-examination was abusive, repetitive, irrelevant and represented a classic case of badgering' a witness.

"The seriousness of the present case coupled with his previous record leads this court to the conclusion that respondent has little regard for the ethics of his profession."

"The practice of law is a privilege rather than a right and by his conduct, respondent (Phelps) has forfeited his privilege. We find he should be disciplined by disbarment....”

On July 20, 1979, Fred Phelps was permanently disbarred from practicing law in the state of Kansas, but the Federal courts gave him a two year suspension.

In 1984, he used his license to sue Ronald Reagan seeking injunctive relief based on the First Amendment, seeking to stop the American President from naming an ambassador to the Vatican.

According to the Topeka Capital-Journal:

“The law career of Fred W. Phelps Sr. ended Feb. 3, 1989, when he surrendered his license to practice law in federal court. “Phelps gave up his license after he and five of his grandchildren and a daughter-in-law — all lawyers — surfaced as defendants in a disciplinary complaint filed Dec. 16, 1985, by nine active and senior U.S. District Court judges in Kansas. The federal judges charged the seven Phelpses had made false accusations against them.

“The five children were Fred W. Phelps Jr., Margie Jean Phelps, Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper, Jonathan Baxter Phelps and Elizabeth Marie Phelps. Betty Joan Phelps, wife of Fred Phelps Jr., was the seventh defendant....

“Margie Jean Phelps was suspended for a year. Fred W. Phelps Jr. was suspended for six months. Both also were suspended in Kansas courts for the same amount of time.”

After disbarment, Phelps dove into the ministry of his Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, a church which believes that it’s adherents alone will survive a “judgment day”. Most of the church members are Phelps agnates, children and grand-children. He sends them out, children and all, bearing large banners and even t-shirts emblazoned with the hateful message, God Hates Fags. More recently, he has taken to picketing near funerals of US soldiers killed in action.

In view of the grieving family, he parades himself and his clan with picket signs which read “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. On his church's website on April 17, 2010 is an image of a child holding a sign "God Hates the USA".

His outrageous action and abuse of freedom of speech caused the United States government to enact public law 109-228 of the 109th Congress, the Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act which prohibits protests within 300 feet of military funerals.

Like the wise law courts of the United States before it, he has been banned from Britain.