Friday, November 15, 2013

Virginia v. Black case brief

Virginia v. Black case brief summary
538 U.S. 343 (2003)

Respondents were convicted in separate cases of burning crosses with the intent to intimidate as proscribed by Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-423 (1996) which also provided that any cross-burning was prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate. Upon the grant of a writ of certiorari, petitioner Commonwealth of Virginia appealed the judgment of the Supreme Court of Virginia which reversed the convictions on the ground that § 18.2-423 was unconstitutional.

The first respondent burned a cross during a Ku Klux Klan rally, and the second and third respondents burned a cross in the yard of an African-American neighbor who complained about one respondent's use of his backyard as a firing range. Respondents contended that their expressive conduct in burning the crosses was protected by their constitutional right to freedom of speech.

  • The United States Supreme Court held, however, that the prohibition of cross-burning with the intent to intimidate under § 18.2-423 was not unconstitutional since it banned conduct rather than expression. 
  • While cross-burning could constitute expression, such expressive conduct was not proscribed unless it was done with the intent to intimidate, and targeting cross-burning was reasonable because burning a cross was historically a particularly virulent form of intimidation. 
  • However, a plurality of the Supreme Court asserted that the statutory provision that any cross-burning was prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate, which was interpreted under state law to mean that cross-burning by itself could support a conviction without further evidence of intent, was an unconstitutional restraint on speech.

The judgment reversing respondents' convictions was affirmed with regard to the first respondent whose conviction implicated the statutory provision that cross-burning constituted prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate. The judgment was vacated with regard to the second and third respondents whose convictions did not implicate the evidentiary provision, and the cases of such respondents were remanded for further proceedings.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Ins and Outs of Class Action Lawsuits: A Comprehensive Guide

Sometimes, you may buy a product only to find it defective. To make it worse, your search for the product reveals mass complaints. You can ...