Senate Adds Expanded Death Penalty to Hate Crimes Bill
Two things I already knew: Sen. Jeff Sessions is a danger as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate's Hate Crimes bill is ill-conceived legislation.
Things I now know: It's worse than I thought. The ACLU reports the Senate yesterday approved an Amendment by Jeff Sessions expanding the use of the death penalty for hate crimes. (Why not just life plus cancer as a penalty while he's at it?)
From the ACLU and then an action alert to get this removed.
The U.S. Senate yesterday passed an amendment extending the death penalty for certain hate crimes. The amendment, sponsored by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), was added to the hate crimes amendment to the Defense authorization bill that passed last Thursday. In a letter sent to Senators, the American Civil Liberties Union urged lawmakers to oppose this misguided and wrong expansion of the federal death penalty.
“The expansion of the federal death penalty stands in stark contrast to furthering the cause of civil rights in the United States,” said Christopher Anders, ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel. “The death penalty is always wrong. Capital punishment has been proven to be such an expensive and discriminatory punishment that Congress should oppose any effort to expand its scope and reach. At a time when evidence is mounting that scores of innocent defendants have been sentenced to death, Congress should steer clear of expanding the death penalty."
Let's also not forget:
In addition to this death penalty amendment, the ACLU also did not support the underlying hate crime provision in the defense authorization bill which would have a chilling effect on free speech and association. The U.S. House of Representatives has a welcome version of the hate crimes bill that protects speech and association as well as gives the federal government new authority to prosecute certain violent acts based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability.
From the NCADP:
Please contact your members of congress (House and Senate) to urge them to remove the death penalty provision when it goes to conference.
You can reach the US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your Senator's or Representative's office. If you do not know who your two U.S. Senators or your Representative are, or for their direct office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, go here:
AFTER YOU CALL, please forward this message to your friends, family, etc. and ask them to call, and then please also send an e-mail to each of your two Senators and your Representative.
Update: From QWERTY
Now that both the Senate and House have okay'd Defense Department budget bills, the differences in them will be ironed out by a special committee before final votes are taken in both houses in September. This provides one last opportunity to change the Senate's version of hate crimes legislation before it goes to Obama's desk, meaning Sessions' amendments — which Gay Inc. is calling overreaching and outrageous — could still be yanked at the last minute. (The House passed a standalone hate crimes bill.)
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