BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Vermont Supreme Court has overturned a man's conviction for distributing Ku Klux Klan recruitment fliers to two minority women in Burlington.
William Schenk had pleaded no contest to a disorderly conduct charge that he gave the fliers to a black woman and a Hispanic woman in Burlington in October of 2015. He was sentenced to 120 days in prison.
But Schenk later appealed to the state Supreme Court, arguing his speech was protected by the Constitution because he was trying to recruit new members.
The Burlington Free Press reports the Supreme Court issued a split decision Friday, ruling that the disorderly conduct statute applies to behavior, not speech, and that leaving the fliers amounted to speech. The court disagreed that the distributing the fliers were "threatening behavior."