Does the First Amendment forbid states to punish bigots more severely than other criminals? The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide this summer. Last year the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned that state's hate-crime law, which imposes extra punishment on offenders when they are motivated by prejudice. (See "What's Hate Got to Do with It?", December.) The state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in the case, Wisconsin v. Mitchell in April. The Court's decision is likely to determine the constitutional status of similar laws in 28 other states, including Ohio, whose Supreme Court has also rejected penalty enhancement for hate crimes.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "The State of Hate".