June 22, 1992: Supreme Court makes controversial ruling in the case of R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul

Burning crosses inside the fenced yard of a black family is "protected speech" under the First Amendment, according to the Supreme Court.
51:04 | 06/15/17

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Transcript for June 22, 1992: Supreme Court makes controversial ruling in the case of R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul
In Washington today the Supreme Court has handed down another important ruling on freedom of speech. The court has said that hate crimes in this case burning cross on someone's front yard may be reprehensible behavior. But the law in Saint Paul, Minnesota which makes it illegal. Does violate the principle of free speech here's ABC's Tim O'Brien. Russell and Laura Jones had just moved into their new home in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The only black family in the neighborhood at 1 o'clock in the morning a cross burning in their front yard the Jones family got the message now. I don't care. Pan am banking out. Police arrested a seventeen year old neighbor and charge him of violating saint Paul's law against hate crimes. It specifically prohibits burning crosses displaying swastika as. And other conduct likely to arouse anger alarm or resentment and others' on the basis of race color creed religion or gender. We can't let. Over from I was like Disco run because other people can get caught not just our way people can you cut would ban laws. Today all nine justices agreed saint Paul's ordinance violates free speech. Because it singled out messages of religious gender and racial intolerance the ruling casts doubt on similar laws throughout the country. Justice Antonin Scalia up for a five justice majority said communities may not silence speech on the basis of its content in this case to protect minorities. The county attorney in Saint Paul expressed fears about the impact. I hope this doesn't open up the a groundswell of activity by. Ministry as saying that we're protecting. Questions and Jared. The court observed that the youth involved in today's case still faces assault charges in Saint Paul and in emphasize that hate crimes even those involving expression. May still be forbidden through broad general laws laws that in Saint Paul and elsewhere carries stiff criminal penalties. Tim O'Brien ABC news Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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