Cross Burning

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A divided U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Virginia's ban on cross burning.

The court ruled Monday that the history of racial intimidation attached to this symbol outweighs the free speech protection of Ku Klux Klansmen or others who might it.

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote for the majority that a burning cross is an instrument of terror, and government should have the power to stamp out or punish its use.

O'Connor said that the protections afforded by the First Amendment "are not absolute."

Virginia argued on behalf of two cases. One involved the burning of a cross on a multiracial Virginia Beach couple's lawn in 1998, and a cross-burning on private land in southwest Virginia at a Ku Klux Klan rally that same year.

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