In 1998, Barry Black (defendant) led a Ku Klux Klan rally in Virginia. At the close of the rally, the participants burned a cross. Black was charged with violating a Virginia statute that made it illegal to burn a cross if the burning was done with intent to intimidate someone. The statute also stated that the burning of a cross in itself is prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate. At Black's trial, the court instructed the jury that the burning of the cross itself was sufficient evidence from which to infer the required intent to intimidate. The jury convicted Black. Black appealed, and the appellate court affirmed his conviction. The Supreme Court of Virginia reversed and held that the statute was unconstitutional. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.