High court upholds cross-burning ban In 5-4 decision, justices say First Amendment ‘not absolute’ ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON, April 7 — A divided Supreme Court upheld a state ban on cross burning, ruling Monday the history of racial intimidation attached to it outweighs the free speech protection of Ku Klux Klansmen or others who might use it. A BURNING CROSS is an instrument of terror, and government should have the power to stamp out or punish its use, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor wrote in the 5-4 ruling. The protections afforded by the First Amendment “are not absolute,” she wrote. Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only black member, dissented, but made clear his reasons have nothing to do with protecting free speech rights of the Klan. Thomas said the court didn’t even have to consider the First Amendment implications because cross burning clearly is intimidation. THOMAS DISSENTS “Just as one cannot burn down someone’s house to make a political point and then seek refuge in the First Amendment, those who hate cannot terrorize and intimidate to make their point,” he wrote. “In our culture, cross burning has almost invariably meant lawlessness and understandably instills in its victims well-grounded fear of physical violence.” more . . . Hmm. As deporable as I find the action, the First Amendment should protect it.