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R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul

The Lower Court's Rule

The trial court in Minnesota ruled in the teenager's favor. It held that the ordinance was overbroad and that it sought to regulate speech based on its content, not its impact (i.e. its potential to incite violence). The city of St. Paul then appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which reversed the lower court's decision. The state supreme court construed the kind of speech banned in the ordinance to fall under the definition of "fighting words" left unprotected by the Constitution. It also expressed the view that the ordinance was a reasonable measure taken by the city to protect its citizens against bias-related crimes. Not satisfied with this decision, the teenager then appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul - Fighting Words, The Lower Court's Rule, The Supreme Court Rules, Further Readings