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Wisconsin v. Mitchell

United States Supreme Court
508 U.S. 476 (1993)


Facts

Mitchell (defendant) was a young black man who, along with a group of friends, beat up a white boy in Wisconsin (plaintiff). Mitchell instigated the attack after viewing a movie in which a white man beat up a black boy, asking his friends, “Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?” Mitchell was convicted of aggravated battery. The trial court increased his sentence under a Wisconsin “hate crimes” statute, which permitted penalty enhancements for defendants who selected victims based on their race. Mitchell argued that the statute was unconstitutional under the First Amendment, because it punished the motives behind the attack. The United States Supreme Court considered the statute’s constitutionality.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rehnquist, C.J.)

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