Tuesday, April 7, 2015

April 7: Crossing Burning is Free Speech

On this date in History ... April 7, 2003:  

The Supreme Court decided the case of Virginia v. Black (5-4) that cross burning was protected under the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech, but, according to the opinion written by Sandra Day O’Conner, “..a state, consistent with the First Amendment, may ban cross burning carried out with the attempt to intimidate.” 

In so doing, the Court created a new area of constitutionally unprotected speech for “true threats.”  

Clarence Thomas wrote the dissent, stating, “This statute prohibits only conduct, not expression. And, just as one cannot burn down someone’s house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point.”


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