Constitutional Law Keyed to Cohen
R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, Minnesota
On June 21, 1990, Petitioner, a juvenile, and several other individuals allegedly assembled a crudely-made cross and burned it inside the fenced yard of a black family that lived across the street from Petitioner. Petitioner was then charged under the St. Paul Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance, which provides that “Whoever places on public or private property a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti, including, but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika, which one knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, or gender commits disorderly conduct and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” Petitioner claims this is impermissibly content-based legislation and therefore facially invalid under the First Amendment, and therefore filed a motion as such. The trial court granted this motion, but the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed on account that the phrase discussing the arousal of anger amounts to fighting words. Petitioner then appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
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