“Hate Crime” laws can sound like a good thing, but they’re dangerous for at least four reasons:
- At best, they’re nearly impossible to effectively enforce, and to apply equally to all defendants in criminal trials. How does a prosecutor or jury enter a defendant’s mind to know what he or she was thinking, at the time of a crime? It’s difficult enough to prove that another person INTENDED to do anything, and it’s exponentially more difficult to prove WHY a person intended to act in a certain manner.
- They can be offensive to victims’ families, and to many citizens seeking a fair society. Example: Three men kill three elderly black women in the same city. The first man kills for money. The second man kills because he hates the elderly. The third man kills because he hates black people. If the city’s “hate crime” laws only apply to racial motives, then the third man would be more harshly punished than the first two men. But the criminal actions were the same. The suffering to the victims, the victims’ friends, and the families are the same (perhaps even worse, in the first two cases). And it’s problematic to argue that the third killer is any “worse” of a person.
- The First Amendment exists largely so that the majority of people cannot declare illegal a viewpoint/opinion that is held by a minority of people. Sometimes, history determines that, after all, the minority is correct (slavery, for example). Right now, many of the people pushing the “hate crimes” laws don’t support the First Amendment, and would like to punish dissenting viewpoints — this particularly goes for leftist college professors and administrators, who want to punish students and employees who hold conservative/libertarian views.
- Regardless of intent or outcome, at least some of these laws are likely unconstitutional. We need to carefully interpret and apply the US Constitution, because while it’s not a perfect document, it is overall a wonderful document. Where we don’t support the Constitution, we can work to change those parts.
The Catholic-based Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) announced this yesterday, December 9:
Ann Arbor, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, filed its opening brief earlier this week with the US court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, seeking to overturn a lower court decision dismissing its federal lawsuit challenging the Federal Hate Crimes Act passed in 2009.
TMLC’s lawsuit was the first in the nation to challenge the federal law. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Pastors Rene Ouellette, James Combs, Levon Yuille and the president of the American Family Association of Michigan, Gary Glenn, against US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Earlier this year, a US District Court Judge dismissed the case on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked “standing” to bring the lawsuit, and that the case was not “ripe” for adjudication. TMLC is appealing this ruling.
The Hate Crimes Act was clearly intended to intimidate Christians and their religious leaders into remaining silent concerning their religious belief that homosexual conduct is an abomination and a sin.
Connect with Benjamin Hodge at Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, The Kansas Progress, and LibertyLinked. Hodge is President of the State and Local Reform Group of Kansas. He served as one of seven at-large trustees at Johnson County Community College from 2005-’09, a member of the Kansas House from 2007-’08, a delegate to the Kansas Republican Party from 2009-’10, and was founder of the Overland Park Republican Party in 2011. His public policy record is recognized by Americans for Prosperity, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, the Kansas Press Association, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition for Open Government, the NRA, Kansans for Life, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).