California Penal Code Section 422.6 Hate Crime

In In re M.S. (1995) 10 Cal. 4th 698, 709-710, 896 P.2d 1365, the court addressed a facial overbreadth challenge to section 422.6, a "hate crime" statute, which proscribes certain types of threats. The court explained that "In this context, the goal of the First Amendment is to protect expression that engages in some fashion in public dialogue, that is, ' communication in which the participants seek to persuade, or are persuaded; communication which is about changing or maintaining beliefs, or taking or refusing to take action on the basis of one's beliefs . . . ." ' As speech strays further from the values of persuasion, dialogue and free exchange of ideas, and moves toward willful threats to perform illegal acts, the state has greater latitude to regulate expression. Nonetheless, statutes criminalizing threats must be narrowly directed against only those threats that truly pose a danger to society.