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NCJ Number: 147833 Find in a Library
Title: FIRST AMENDMENT - FREE SPEECH - FIRST AMENDMENT PROHIBITS HATE CRIME LAWS THAT PUNISH ONLY FIGHTING WORDS BASED ON RACIAL, RELIGIOUS OR GENDER ANIMUS - R.A.V. V. CITY OF ST. PAUL, 112 S. CT. 2538 (1992)
Journal: Seton Hall Law Review  Volume:23  Issue:3  Dated:(1993)  Pages:1067-1095
Author(s): T S McGuire
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 29
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The U.S. Supreme Court's opinon in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul is discussed.
Abstract: The U.S. Supreme Court (Court) has developed a number of categorical exceptions to the general principle of governmental neutrality toward regulating expression. One of these exceptions is the fighting words exception. Under this exception, the regulation is not determined by the particular message expressed, but according to the likelihood of retaliation by the addressee. Many legislators of hate laws and speech codes, when faced with the difficult task of trying to draft a regulation that meets the overriding or compelling governmental interest standard to pass constitutional muster, instead have attempted to fit their restrictions within this exception. In the instant case, the Court considered the legitimacy of regulating racist expression alleged to be encompassed within the traditional fighting words exception. The R.A.V. Court held that while the government can proscribe fighting words generally, it cannot punish certain fighting words according to their racist content. The particular regulation in question was the St. Paul Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance, which prohibited the display of symbols likely to incite anger or alarm on the basis of a person's race, religion or gender. The author of this case note cautions, however, that the R.A.V. decision has left many more questions than answers with regard to the decision's future scope. The decision casts doubt on the constitutionality of statutes that increase sentences for physical attacks that are prompted by race, religion, gender or other motives, on campus speech codes, as well as hostile work environment laws which, like the St. Paul ordinance, proscribe only certain forms of harassment. Footnotes
Main Term(s): Victims of Crime
Index Term(s): Courts; Freedom of speech
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=147833

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