Hate Crime Legislation: We Vote No
Matt Yglesias tackles hate crime legislation, and having read something written by blogger Matt Singer, says Singer makes a strong case in favor of them. Since we oppose hate crime legislation, and a few years ago chaired a task force for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on the issue of federal hate crime legislation, we'll chime in with some arguments against such legislation at the federal level--they come from an article we wrote in 2000, and from the last paragraph, we assume it was sometime after the murder of Matthew Shephard:
Arguments Against Hate Crime Laws:
- The federal judiciary released a statement recently expressing constitutional and practical concerns about hate crime laws. The underlying criminal activity of a hate crime, such as robbery, assault, or murder, traditionally falls under state jurisdiction. The concern is that by passing federal hate crime laws, there will be a mass federalization of crime which should and could be adequately handled at the state level instead of overburdening our already overwhelmed federal courts.
- There is no evidence to suggest that hate crime laws will have a deterrent effect upon hate crimes.
- In many cases, it is very difficult to prove a hateful motivation for the criminal act. The decision to charge a hate crime as such should not be left to law enforcement. The F.B.I., for example, includes gestures and other body language in its hate crime statistics. Prosecutions to date in some cases have been based upon bigoted statements made several years before the act in question.
- There are already sufficient criminal laws and penalties on the books to punish hate crimes. We should punish the act, not the thought process of the actor. If these acts are inadequately prosecuted and punished when the victim is of a minority or disadvantaged class, the answer lies in increased education and sensitization of law enforcement and the judiciary.
|< Criminal Justice System Needs An Overhaul | U.S. to Deport 13,000 Arab and Muslim Men >|