The First Amendment Encyclopedia

Presented by the John Seigenthaler Chair of Excellence in First Amendment Studies

Case Categories: Cross Burning and Free Speech

Since the 1950s, a number of states have passed laws banning cross burnings.

The constitutionality of these laws did not reach the Supreme Court until the early 1990s, and then, in slightly more than a decade, the Court issued two seminal rulings on the subject. These decisions, R.A.V. v. St.Paul (1992) and Virginia v. Black (2003), addressed the constitutionality of laws banning cross burnings and gave the Court a chance to discuss the role of the practice in U.S. history.

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