RAV v. City of St. Paul Case Brief

Summary of RAV v. City of St. Paul

St. Paul’s “Bias Motivated Crime" statute makes it a misdemeanor for (disorderly conduct) to place on public or private ppty/ a symbol, object, etc., including but not limited to a burning cross or swastika / knowing or w/ rsbl grounds to know it / arouses others’ anger, alarm, resentment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, gender.

(1) Held: (Scalia’s opinion): This is content or viewpoint-based which discriminates on the reasons individuals display the symbol (e.g. movie on WWII in a university class). Does not refer to all viewing/display of swastikas or burning crosses—evidenced by the “end" of the statute which makes it clear they’re looking @ content.


(a) Viewpoint discrimination, i.e. punishing only certain viewpoints, is when only one type of the speech in question is proscribed.

(b) e.g. libel: Can regulate this speech, but can’t write a law convicting libel only against the govt or against nuns.

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