Upgrade to the Flash 9 viewer for enhanced content, including the ability to browse & search through your favorite titles.
Click here to learn more!
Does our abhorrence of racism allow us to ban certain forms of speech? This is the simple yet subversive question that Edward J. Cleary posed to the U.S. Supreme Court when, in 1991, he defended a white teenager who had burned a cross on a black family's lawn in St. Paul, Minnesota, violating a local ordinance against hate crimes. Though personally Cleary detested everything his client represented, in this compelling book he describes how he overturned the St. Paul ordinance and convinced the Court to rule that "burning a cross is reprehensible. But St. Paul has sufficient means...to prevent such behavior without adding the First Amendment to the fire."
As Cleary traces his path from St. Paul to the courtroom in Washington, he juxtaposes the stories of previous First Amendment cases with a personal account of the unlikely alliances--with both the A.C.L.U. and a group defending the Ku Klux Klan--and antagonisms that grew out of the case. He shows us why a law that bans expressions of racism is as dangerous as a law that bans protests against those expressions. Beyond the Burning Cross is an unparalleled insider's report of a watershed event in constitutional history that is as absorbing as any thriller. With an Introduction by Nat Hentoff.
Table of Contents
1. Cross Burning Doesn't Happen Here
2. "The Pervasive Threat Inherent in Its Very Existence"
3. A "Constitutional Moment"
4. Words That Injure; Laws that Silence
5. Death and Decision
6. Fascism from the Left: Speech Codes and Political Correctness
7. The Eyes of the Country: The Supreme Court Agrees to Hear R.A.V.
8. Thought Control in the Marketplace: Progressive Censorship, Sexual Harassment, and the Pornography Debate
9. Racial Politics: Clarence Thomas, David Duke, and R.A.V. v. St. Paul
10. The Price of Liberty: Courage, Tolerance, and Vision
11. "Each Generation": The Court Hears Argument
12. "The Rankest Kind of Subject-Matter Discrimination": The Argument Continues
13. "Without Adding the First Amendment to the Fire": The Court Decides
14. "An Occasion...to Dance in the Streets"
Epilogue: The Lessons of History