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Hate Crime Legislation: A Shocking Disregard for Federalism
Cato ^ | David Rittgers

Posted on 07/02/2009 6:24:50 PM PDT by Bob017

Last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (video at the link) on the proposed federal hate crimes bill showed the dark underbelly of the Senate. The road to undermining the rule of law is being paved with the best of intentions and casual disregard (if not outright hostility) for the principles of limited government and equality under the law.

I raise some objections to the bill in this podcast:

The bill federalizes violent acts against victims by reason of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

Never mind that these acts are already prosecuted by the states, and that violent crimes of this nature are universally perceived as an affront to justice. Matthew Shepard, the gay man brutally killed in Wyoming, has provided one of the rallying cries for passage of this legislation. His killers both received two consecutive life sentences from a state court. James Byrd, Jr., the African-American man dragged to death behind a truck in Texas, is cited as another reason to pass the law. His killers received death sentences or life imprisonment.

The federal government would also be authorized to prosecute whenever “the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant to State charges left demonstratively unvindicated the Federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence.” While this doesn’t violate the letter of the Supreme Court’s Double Jeopardy jurisprudence (the federal and state governments are considered separate sovereigns) it certainly violates its spirit.

The hearing video shows a complete disregard for limitations on federal power. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) claims that we need a “uniform” law across the states (82 minute mark). This claim ignores the fact that 45 states have their own hate crime laws and that violence against others is universally unlawful and routinely prosecuted. It also disregards the fact that general police powers belong to the states, not to the federal government.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) then makes a brief appearance (89 minute mark) to slander opponents of the legislation - how could anyone oppose legislation with such a noble goal? He claims that this is tantamount to saying that it is acceptable to harm people because you do not like who they are.

The problem is that a broad array of actions are implicated as “hate crimes.” Virtually all rapes seem to fall under the new law - it is hard to see how the choice of a rape victim would not implicate their sex. Gail Heriot, a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights (which came out 6-2 against this legislation), testified that when she consulted with Department of Justice attorneys in previous attempts to pass this legislation, they didn’t seem fazed by this prospect.

Don’t expect the application of this legislation to be the rare and exceptional prosecution that Attorney General Holder promises in his testimony. Janet Cohen testified that her upbringing in a racially divided America decades ago justifies passage of this law. She also proposes that prosecutions with the new law will be “wise” on account of Holder’s “brilliance and integrity.”

And to think, we were once a nation of laws, not of men.

This legislation doesn’t promote the rule of law, it undermines it. Prosecutions that favor one group of victims over another mark the destruction of equality before the law.

The worst facet of the legislation is its counterproductive nature. A real true believer, a hardcore racist or homophobe, would want to be prosecuted under a statute that criminalizes his motives. Prosecution under a murder statute makes him a common criminal; prosecution for murdering someone given special status by the government makes him a martyr for his cause and incites those motivated by his brand of hatred and animus.

This is nothing new. The Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) criminalized harassment, vandalism and violence against companies that test their products on animals. When seven activists from Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty tried to intimidate people associated with Huntingdon Life Sciences, a company engaged in animal testing, they weren’t just prosecuted for stalking. They were prosecuted for conspiracy to violate a federal statute enacted at the behest of their target industry. This made martyrs of the “SHAC 7” and highlighted the undue influence that an industry can exert over government. The focus is now on the propriety of the law used to prosecute someone, not the fact that they unlawfully stalked people engaged in lawful commercial activity.

You don’t defeat politically motivated violence by politicizing the laws used to prosecute it.

Murder is always murder most foul. We criminalize rape, assault, vandalism, and criminal threats because they harm a citizen - not a super-citizen held in some special regard by the government.

TOPICS: Chit/Chat; History; Reference; Society
KEYWORDS: 111th; cato; federalism; homosexualagenda; thoughtpolice

1 posted on 07/02/2009 6:24:50 PM PDT by Bob017
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To: Bob017

The law does not intend to protect white people that are heterosexual per AG Eric Holder.

2 posted on 07/02/2009 6:36:12 PM PDT by VicVega (Join Jihad, get captured by the US and resettled in the best places in the world. I love the USA)
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To: VicVega

This is blatant unconstitutional law. It violates the equal protection clause by creating different classes of people that get different treatment under the law. It is time to kill this notion that it’s worse to hurt someone if your motivation is biased in some way. A crime is not worse if it happens to a woman versus a man. A crime is not worse if it happens to a gay or a straight. A crime is not worse if it happens to an older person or a younger person.

Further they will not even be fair and apply it equally to whites if their criminals are black and are racially motivated to hurt white people. No protection if gays attack straigh people out of hate. No protections for men if a gang of chicas pound the crap out of him on a sidewalk. How stupid and hypocritical is that? It would be bad enough as it is, it’s even worse in that not everyone gets this asinine protection.

All crimes are hate crimes. This violates equal protection.

3 posted on 07/02/2009 6:59:04 PM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: VicVega

We have a serious problem in the house and senate with politicians who have no respect for our freedoms. We are going to be forced to fight for our freedom and liberty. The approval of the Crap & Rape bill convinced me that the politicians are the enemy of freedom. They wan to control our every move and spend our money anyway they want.

4 posted on 07/02/2009 6:59:35 PM PDT by peeps36 ( Al Gore. Is A Big Fat Lying Hypocrite. He Pollutes The Air By Opening His Big Mouth)
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To: Pharmboy; AdmSmith; Berosus; bigheadfred; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Ernest_at_the_Beach; ...
...the proposed federal hate crimes bill showed the dark underbelly of the Senate... federalizes violent acts against victims by reason of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.

5 posted on 07/02/2009 7:10:46 PM PDT by SunkenCiv ( Jan 3, 2004__Profile updated Monday, January 12, 2009)
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To: Secret Agent Man

20 years ago there was a HATE CRIME here in central Florida, that will always haunt me. A WHITE teenager drove his car on a HOT Florida afternoon to a store, and disappeared. The next day his car was found and when they opened the trunk there he was, with a fever so high and so near death that medics did not know what had happened. He was hospitalized for a long time, and when he “recovered” his life was forever changed, with brain damage, physical damage and cerebral palsy. Four BLACK teens who did not know him did this for “a lark.” They are all out of prison now.............he will NEVER be.

6 posted on 07/02/2009 7:15:59 PM PDT by linton59 (. bitter,typical,gun-toting,Bible thumping, indigenous, disinfranchised, 1 of the chattering classes)
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To: Secret Agent Man

I am sorry and I hate to tell you, but, to reason, to be logical, and share common sense to a liberal, MSM is a futile effort..

7 posted on 07/02/2009 7:22:17 PM PDT by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM .53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no GOD.)
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To: Bob017
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder repeatedly claimed that hate crime laws are designed to protect only groups that were targeted for violence on a "historic basis," such as African-Americans, Hispanics, Jews, and gays.

As straight white people we cannot ever be victims of hate crimes? But..

"according to the Justice Department's own statistics, in only 10% of the 650,000 violent interracial crimes that occur each year in this country are white offenders attacking black victims . . . In 90% of interracial violent crimes, whites are being attacked by blacks."

Lots of source references in this link (above).

8 posted on 07/02/2009 7:55:29 PM PDT by WilliamofCarmichael (If modern America's Man on Horseback is out there, Get on the damn horse already!)
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To: WilliamofCarmichael

The operative pivot is “designed to”, rather than “will”. This is clearly a pre-cursor for intent deniability.

Erick is the pits.

9 posted on 07/02/2009 8:39:52 PM PDT by Rabin
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To: Secret Agent Man

So agree with what you wrote. I feel the republicans will vote for it with the excuse of trying to get “special groups” to support the party. Not going to happen.

We need some serious changes to our leadership in the GOP. Newt and his gang need not apply.

10 posted on 07/02/2009 9:18:00 PM PDT by VicVega (Join Jihad, get captured by the US and resettled in the best places in the world. I love the USA)
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To: Bob017

This one’s supposed to be up before the Senate on Wed. July 15 -— MELT those phone lines, e-mail, and fax your senators!!!

11 posted on 07/10/2009 8:50:09 PM PDT by JLLH
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To: Secret Agent Man

To play devil’s advocate:

These laws, by their letter, aim not to make crimes directed toward one person more heinous than the same crime directed toward another person.

They aim, rather, to make the motivations behind a crime render that crime more heinous than the same crime absent those motivations.

So, what we must argue is that evil motivations behind a crime cannot make that crime more evil. But we already do this all the time.

It is the basis of the distinctions among such crimes as murder of the various degrees: the first (intentional, premeditated action); second (in perpetration of a felony); and third (intent to harm but not to kill). Further: manslaughter (which is absent malice and intent); and homicide (which is justified or accidental).

So why are these judgments of motivation valid, but those pertaining to the victim’s perceived or actual race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, (whatever), not valid?

It could be argued that the government has no interest in making these aspects of criminals’ motivation relevant in criminal law.

One other obvious answer is that these crimes will be prosecuted unfairly, which is what you have said. But the issue wouldn’t be whether whites attacked by blacks were treated the same as blacks attacked by whites. The issue is whether whites attacked by blacks *because they are white* are treated the same as blacks attacked by whites *because they are black*.

Again, one can say that the whole argument is outside the realm of Federal concern, and thus moot. But I don’t think that argument will persuade the measure’s proponents. And besides, these measures already exist for race, gender, relgion, etc.

The debate before us is whether to add sexual orientation to the list. And by the letter of the law, this addition would protect straight people from being attacked for being straight. But whether the letter of the law meets up with the minds of prosecutors is, I suppose, the true problem.

12 posted on 07/11/2009 12:45:00 AM PDT by ivyleaguebrat
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To: ivyleaguebrat

Motivation as an excuse for harsher punishment for the same crime is bunk.

It is subjective in that government determines sets of classes that are going to get more protection.

They could go on for ever creating classes. But notice how they avoid giving certain classes protection. Christians. Whites in general. Heterosexuals.

It still violates the Equal Protection clause, because whites and straight men will never benefit from their attackers getting tougher treatment for the same crime they would do to a member ofthe government-decided protected classes.

And it doesn’t matter what the aim of the laws are. The EFFECT of the laws when put in practice EXACTLY make crimes directed toward a victim/victims more heinous than the same crime directed at a person NOT in a protected class.

They are discriminatory by nature. Government decides who will have cover and under what class they are covered. The AG already said whites and heterosexuals WILL NOT be covered. No matter what the circumstances. If he can testify before CONGRESS they will not be covered, and say that with certainty, it does not matter what the circumstances of any individual case is. They’ve already decided whites and straights will be discriminated against by not being covered by these laws.

You know exactly what the intent of these laws are. For the gays, they are to be able to intimidate Christians and organizations that speak out against the homosexual lifestyle. This gives gays a greater ability to ‘be offended’ and bring lawsuits and have the penalties be greater against those who say anything bad against their lifestyle. The AG also said pastors have no protection under this law. And since white men are the only category not protected, guess who they are aiming at with the rest of it?

This is an attempt to put more white men in prison. Because these people for years have thought too many black men are in prison. Problem is, the black men they are talking about actually did commit crimes. Many are violent crimes. And they don’t like the fact that so many black men are in prison, have records, etc. They concoct these assinine laws to make it easier for anyone in a protected class to go after a white guy on hopped up charges and make his sentence worse.

The other reason behind this is that white guys have a LOT of guns in this country. Upping their sentences with hate crime penalties will be used to push some into felony time territory, and guess what - you’re now disarmed.

13 posted on 07/11/2009 9:39:43 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: VicVega

Melt the phone lines, e-mail, fax your Congress Critters!! This bill up for vote on Wed. 7/15 last I read....

14 posted on 07/11/2009 1:16:30 PM PDT by JLLH
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