Justice Clarence Thomas’ most memorable questions at oral argument took place on Dec. 11, 2002, in the case of Virginia v. Black, a test of a Virginia law that made it a crime to burn a cross with the purpose of intimidation. The Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the law violated First Amendment freedom of speech. At oral argument, Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Michael Dreeben appeared in support of Virginia’s defense of the law. Thomas spoke after Dreeben answered questions from Justice Anthony Kennedy. Thomas cited an earlier case from Ohio, Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette, in which he had also made comments during oral argument about the Klan. The Virginia v. Black argument can be heard online.
JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY: Is there … is there an immediacy component to [the law] as there is with assaults?
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