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Policy Communiqué 

Congressional hate-crimes legislation is an unnecessary
attempt to criminalize speech
 

Joel P. Rutkowski, Ph.D., President
The American Voice Institute Of Public Policy  

 

Contents:

An expansion of the power of the federal government
Federal legislation is unnecessary
Legislation will not prevent crime
Legislation will not increase tolerance and conflict
Thought Crimes
End Notes
 

An expansion of the power of the federal government 

The Constitution of the United States says that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech.  Yet once again Congress is attempting to have an illegal Constitutional convention and usurp this right guaranteed every American as it unconstitutionally expands the power of the federal government.  One will say how can this be done? Through hate crimes legislation. 

Congress wrongly continues to federalize crimes that are properly state and local jurisdictions.  The Framers of the Constitution developed a judicial system that was built upon the idea of equal justice for all.  However, the proposed hate crimes legislation by Congress will make justice no longer equal but dependent upon race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.   

The basic tenet of the legislation is to punish criminal acts that are motivated by some type of bias such as racial hatred.  However, all crime is biased because it is based on hatred and disrespect for one's fellow human being.  A matter that is to be handled by state and local government under the U.S. Constitution is crime.  Congress has “no general right to punish murder committed within any of the States” observed Chief Justice John Marshall in 1821.  Unconstitutional as well as wrong is the power “to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes” which Congress has assumed over the passing years. 

The proposed hate-crimes bills that the House of Representatives passed on May 3, 2007, and the Senate is considering are beyond the powers delegated to Congress. Yet it continues to exacerbate errors of past Congresses by federalizing more criminal offenses, wrongly using the Commerce Clause to enact whatever legislation it deems to be in the best interest of America. 

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Federal legislation is unnecessary 

Crimes under state law are already violent acts that would be prohibited under the proposed federal measure.  A great deal of publicity over the past few years has focused on the heinous murders in Texas of James Byrd, a black gentleman and in Wyoming of Matthew Shepard, a homosexual. State and local authorities quickly apprehended and prosecuted the individuals responsible for these murders. Simply, these actions demonstrate that federal legislation is unnecessary.  What has been tragic regarding the case of Matthew Shepard is that homosexual activists, the media and liberal lawmakers continue to promote the lie that the heinous murder of Matthew Shepard was a hate crime against a homosexual. And as result of this crime the hypocritical U.S. Senator of Massachusetts Edward Kennedy entitled his  legislation the Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (S. 1105). The truth of the matter is that the evidence determined that the murder was not a hate crime but instead a robbery attempt that went awry.  What is very important about the murder of Matthew Shepherd is that without the benefit of any “hate crimes” law, the two murderers of Matthew Shepard received life in prison sentences.  

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Legislation will not prevent crime 

The proposed legislation will not prevent one crime. For example, just because Congress passes a new law, this will not sway an individual that is intent on harming another human to lay down his weapon of choice. For example, a conscious decision to disregard basic homicide statutes was made by the murderers involved in the murders of James Byrd and Matthew Shepard.  Furthermore, these murders took place in states that have the most drastic legal sanction available under the law — the death penalty. Congress is foolish to believe that these brutal murders could have been prevented by federal hate crimes law. 

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Legislation will not increase tolerance and conflict 

The belief that such laws will increase tolerance in society and reduce intergroup conflict, which is what proponents of hate-crimes legislation believe, is wrong. In fact, what will be observed is quite the opposite. For example, likely to encounter a never – ending series of complaints with respect to their official decisions will be those who will administer hate crimes law such as police and prosecutors. There is no doubt that some will complain that the group to which the accused belongs is favored when a U.S. attorney declines to prosecute a certain offense as a hate crime. Also, some will complain that the decision was based upon politics and that the government is favoring the group to which the victim belongs when a U.S. attorney prosecutes an offense as a hate crime. And this is actually what has occurred at the local level in some of the jurisdictions that have enacted hate crimes law 

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Thought Crimes  

What is most disturbing about the hate crimes legislation is that it is too close to the notion of a thought crime.  Presently, existing crime laws cover acts, not just thoughts. However, the law enforcement apparatus of the state will be investigating the accused life and thoughts in order to establish if the individual was motivated by bigotry, once hate crimes legislation becomes law.   Furthermore, criminal investigators will look, for example, to see what types of books and magazines were found in the accused criminal's home, what Internet sites were bookmarked on his computer, and to determine what the alleged individual's political and worldview was.  Friends, family and coworkers would have to be interviewed. These are just a few examples of disturbing and frightening state intrusion in the event of an investigation under the proposed hate crimes legislation. 

When the House of Representatives on May 3, 2007, passed the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007 (H.R. 1592) this was an initial step towards government regulation of attitudes and beliefs. One soon realizes that the true intent of the legislation is to one day silence the voices of people of faith who express their moral and Biblical concerns about such issues as homosexuality. If one would think that this is absurd, let's consider the following example. In Philadelphia , Pennsylvania, eleven Christians were arrested and then jailed in October 2004, while street witnessing during a taxpayer–funded homosexual rights rally.  The reason for this was the Pennsylvania hate crimes law. Each faced up to 47 years in prison and $90,000 in fines though all charges were eventually dismissed. 

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End Notes 

1.      Barber, Matt. “Fake Anti-“Gay” “Hate Crimes” Keep Piling Up.“ Townhall.com. [Retrieved May 3, 2007].

2.      Lynch, Timothy. “Hate This. Mr. President, get ready for another veto.” National Review Online. [Retrieved May 3, 2007].

3.      Martin, Allie and Brown, Jody. “Christians urged to voice opposition to ‘hate crimes' legislation on Tuesday.” OneNewsNow.com. [Retrieved May 11, 2007].

4.      Sullum, Jacob. “Looking for hate in the wrong places.” The Washington Times. [Retrieved May 11, 2007].

5.      “House Votes To Expand Hate Crimes Law.” The Associated Press. [Retrieved May 3, 2007].