Brief Fact Summary. St. Paul’s Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance (the Ordinance) was held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) because it was substantially overbroad and impermissibly content-based.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Content-based restrictions, as well as point-of-view restrictions, are presumably invalid.
Where suppression of speech suggests an attempt to give one side of a debatable public question an advantage in expressing its views to the people, the First Amendment is plainly offended.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the Ordinance is substantially overbroad and impermissibly content-based?
Held. Yes. Judgment of the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed. The statute is unconstitutional because it prohibits otherwise protected speech solely on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses. This ordinance, even narrowly construed to apply only to “fighting words,” still clearly applies to “fighting words” that insult or provoke violence “on the basis of race