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Running Head: Case Brief 4

‘‘Viginia vs. Black (2003)’’


[Name of Student]



[Name of institution]

February 13th, 2019

Issue: Whether the burning of the cross by a defendant (or three separate defendants) considered a felony in the eyes of the First Amendment? And whether the evidence of burning the cross sufficient enough to indicate that is a case of ‘prima facie’, projected by the messages of the Klu Klux Klan.


· The 1942 case Chaplin sky vs. New Hampshire, 1964 case Sullivan vs. New York Times Co, 1992 case R. A. V. vs. City of St. Paul, the court was given the decision to acknowledge the impact of hate speeches and place them under the construct of controversial speeches.

· The prime example of burning a cross has been studied by the legislature and it has been added to the signs that reflect a mindset and ideology similar to that of the KKK.

· Once it is proven that the cross was burned with the intent of imitation, it is considered a legal offence of the criminal stature.

Supreme Court Decision: The judge concluded that at the time of the cases, the laws of the First Amendment were implemented justly, but they were dismissed later on grounds of unproven intent.



· In the court of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, it was delivered that burning the cross was in itself a criminal offence in the eyes of the First Amendment. The intention was not of any question to her.

· It has been proclaimed that in majority of these cases, the court had acknowledged the freedom of expression and freedom of speech, but on certain occasions, the court has also pointed to the impact and power these speeches also hold. Therefore, the decisions have been taken on the rationality of the conclusive impact of these speeches.


· It was argued that the burning of the cross and burning of the flag should be dealt in the same manner when subject to the prejudices of criminal offences, in the court of Justice Clarence Thomas.

· The majority agreed that it was hard to decipher whether someone is burning the cross with the actual intention, therefore burning of anything other than property should not be considered a legal offence, Justice Davis Souter.

Comment: Historically, because of criminal offences projected by the Klu Klux Klan have symbolized the importance of hate speeches towards cultures, races and ethnicities.

Works Cited Virginia v. Black . No. 538U.S.343. O’Connor . 2003.

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