High Court: states may ban cross burning

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The Supreme Court today upheld a Virginia ban on cross burning, a majority of justices concluding that the symbol of racial intimidation does not allot Ku Klux Klansmen or others to claim free speech protection. “The protections afforded by the First Amendment … are not absolute,” O’Connor wrote for herself and four other justices, reported the Associated Press. Clarence Thomas, the court’s only black member, dissented, but said the court was not required to rule on the First Amendment issue. O’Connor was joined by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia and Stephen Breyer. The case produced an unusual lineup of justices, with Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissenting on First Amendment grounds.

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