Cross-Burning Convictions Overturned
maule at LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU
Fri Nov 2 18:09:01 PST 2001
News from another list. I do not have a URL for the actual news release.
My query: Is this another case of prosecutors missing the easy path? How can free speech permit trespass onto another person's property, and fire ignition that can put the person's home at risk?
The AP reports a 4-3 Virginia Supreme Court decision striking down
a state law against cross-burning. It called cross-burnings acts of
bigotry that are a protected form of speech.
Convictions of three people in two cases were reversed. In one, a cross was
burned at a Ku Klux Klan rally, and in the other there was an attempt to burn
a cross in an African-American's back yard.
From the opinion: "Under our system of government, people have the right to use symbols
to communicate. They patriotically wave the flag or burn it in
protest; they may reverently worship the cross or burn it as an
expression of bigotry."
"While reasonable prohibitions upon time, place and manner of speech,
and statutes of neutral application, may be enforced, government may
not regulate speech based on hostility - or favoritism - towards the
underlying message expressed."
From the dissent: "for almost 50 years [the law] has protected our citizens from being placed in fear of bodily
harm by the burning of a cross."
Professor of Law, Villanova University School of Law
Villanova PA 19085
maule at law.villanova.edu
President, TaxJEM Inc (computer assisted tax law instruction) (www.taxjem.com)
Publisher, JEMBook Publishing Co. (www.jembook.com)
Maule Family Archivist & Genealogist (www.maulefamily.com)
More information about the Conlawprof