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R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minnesota

United States Supreme Court
505 U.S. 377 (1992)


Facts

R.A.V. (defendant), a juvenile, and several other teenagers burned a wooden cross on the lawn of a home owned by a black family. R.A.V. was arrested for violating the St. Paul Bias Motivated Crime Ordinance (the Ordinance), enacted by the City of St. Paul, Minnesota (plaintiff) to promote human rights for groups that have historically been subject to discrimination. The Ordinance prohibited the placement of hateful symbols, including burning crosses, “which one knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouse . . . anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender.” R.A.V. moved to dismiss the charge on the grounds that the Ordinance was facially invalid under the First Amendment. Specifically, R.A.V. argued the Ordinance was an unconstitutionally overbroad content-based regulation of speech. The trial court granted the motion. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, holding that the language of the statute, “arouses anger, alarm or resentment,” limited the regulation to “fighting words,” which are not protected speech. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (White, J.)

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Concurrence (Blackmun, J.)

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Concurrence (Stevens, J.)

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