Cross-Burning Case Explores Free-Speech Controversy

John G. Douglass, University of Richmond


Virginia v. Black was Smolla's first oral argument before the Supreme Court, but his appearance on the national stage of First Amendment controversy was nothing new. Among academics, Smolla has long been regarded as a leading First Amendment voice. His publications include a widely-used casebook, top law review articles, plays, short stories, a forthcoming novel, and a nonfiction work that became the script for a popular movie. As a litigator of two decades experience, he has argued First Amendment appeals in dozens of state and federal courts around the nation. Early in his career, he had a knack for finding big First Amendment cases. These days, such cases find him.