1992 – The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that hate-crime laws that ban cross-burning and similar expressions of racial bias violated free-speech rights


R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992), is a case of the United States Supreme Court that unanimously struck down St. Paul ‘s Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance and reversed the conviction of a teenager, referred to in court documents only as R.A.V., for burning a cross on the lawn of an African-American family since the ordinance was held to violate the First Amendment ‘s protection of freedom of speech.

Concurrence: White, joined by Blackmun, O’Connor, Stevens (in part)

Full case name: R.A.V., Petitioner v. City of St. Paul, Minnesota

Majority: Scalia, joined by Rehnquist, Kennedy, Souter, Thomas

Prior: Statute upheld as constitutional and charges reinstated, 464 N.W.2d 507 (Minn. 1991)