US Supreme Court Decision Puts Tight Limit on `Hate Speech' Laws

By Marshall Ingwerson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, June 24, 1992 | Go to article overview

US Supreme Court Decision Puts Tight Limit on `Hate Speech' Laws


Marshall Ingwerson, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


THE legality of "hate speech" regulations throughout the United States is open to doubt after a Supreme Court decision June 22 in a Minnesota cross-burning case.

The court used a surprisingly wide broom to sweep away a St. Paul city ordinance against speech that causes "anger, alarm, or resentment" based on race or religion.

The unanimous decision plays against a backdrop of social controversy over political correctness. The majority opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia made clear that the injuries of racist epithets and symbols will not outweigh the right to free speech.

The justices were widely expected to throw out the St. Paul ordinance because it was written too broadly to get past the Constitutional right to free speech. Instead, the court made a nearly absolute ban on regulating speech according to the views it expresses.

The ruling "makes almost all possible forms of hate-speech bans unconstitutional," says Rod Smolla, a free-speech expert at the law school of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

In the past two years alone, seven states have enacted new hate-crimes legislation, and six states have strengthened existing legislation.

Most stiffen penalties when group bigotry is behind acts that are already criminal. The only states without hate-crime laws are Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Alaska.

Jess Hordes, Washington director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, is optimistic that the impact of this decision will be limited to such sweeping laws as the St. Paul ordinance. Yet he admits that the decision is "a near-absolute ban on content-based regulation."

One night in June of 1990, some white youths in a working class neighborhood in St. Paul made a cross from broken chair legs and set it on fire in the front yard of Russ and Laura Jones and their five children. The Joneses were the only black family living in the neighborhood.

The leader of the cross burners was prosecuted under a 1982 city ordinance that bars placing any symbol with the knowledge that it "arouses anger, alarm, or resentment in others based on race, color, creed, religion, or gender. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

US Supreme Court Decision Puts Tight Limit on `Hate Speech' Laws
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.