Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New federal hate crimes legislation taking liberties with (and in violation of) the Constitution

Why don't we just suspend habeas corpus while we're at it:

Under current law, crimes motivated by bias against a victim's race, color, religion, or national origin can be prosecuted by the federal government, so long as the victim had been engaged in a "federally-protected activity" - attending a public school, for example, or being in a place of public accommodation or entertainment. The proposed Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which passed the House last month and is pending in the Senate, would significantly broaden the federal government's reach.

The bill, named for a gay college student beaten to death in Wyoming in 1998, would add four new categories of hate crimes to the federal code: those committed because of someone's sex, sexual orientation, gender (or transgender) identity, and disability. It would eliminate the prerequisite of a "federally-protected activity" and require instead only the loosest connection to interstate commerce. And the proposed legislation would make it far easier for defendants acquitted in state court to be retried at the federal level - a circumvention of the Fifth Amendment's protection against double jeopardy that has prompted four members of the US Civil Rights Commission to publicly oppose the bill.

See the rest of Jeff Jacoby's article about new federal hate crimes legislation here.

1 comment:

Lee said...

For liberals, the holy grail is managing to make opposition to their agenda into a "hate crime" here, the way they have done in Canada -- where the slightest hint of criticism of Islam is enough to get you yanked before a tribunal -- and Australia -- where a preacher can be arrested for preaching against homosexuality.

How much faith should we have in the First Amendment to protect our freedom of speech and religion? It didn't help us much against McCain-Feingold. My guess is it won't help us much here, either.

Sure would like to be wrong.