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Kiah Morris case: How far do free speech protections go in the US?

Absolutely central to the US Constitution is the right to free speech. But how far can it be extended, in comparison with the UK?

Kiah Morris was the only black woman in the Vermont legislature - until she quit in September after two years of abuse.

This week, the state's attorney general agreed that the former Democratic representative had been subjected to racial and gender harassment, but he ruled against criminal charges, citing free speech.

During the following news conference, just as Ms Morris took to the microphone, the accused white supremacist was seen entering the room.

"This is not safe," someone in the crowd shouted out as Max Misch stood at the back of the church, wearing a Pepe the Frog T-shirt - a renowned hate symbol.

"Why is this allowed?" asked another.

"This is America," replied someone else.

The First Amendment of the US Constitution protects free speech, even racist speech. But is it applicable to threats and harassment? And how would a similar case have unfolded in the UK - where there are more applicable hate speech laws?

Attorney General TJ Donovan presented at Monday's news conference.

"The online communications that were sent to Ms Morris by Max Misch and others were clearly racist and extremely offensive," it concluded. "However, the First Amendment does not make speech sanctionable merely because its content is objectionable."

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