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Is this constitutional?


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  • Is this constitutional?

    Putting aside your opinions on hate crime legislation itself, do you guys even think that Congress has the power to pass such a law? I think it falls short of their enumerated powers under Article One Section 8. In fact, The fairly recent Supreme Court cases of U.S. v. Lopez and U.S. v. Morrison confirms this. One struck down a Federal Law criminalizing mere possession of assault weapons in a school zone and the other was a Federal Violence Against Women Act. The Supreme Court struck down both laws.

    The year 1998 was dominated by the saga of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but it also saw two horrific killings that led to a new federal law signed by President Obama.

    On June 7, in Texas, three white men chained an African American named James Byrd to a pickup truck and dragged him to his death; in the early hours of Oct. 7, two men in Wyoming beat up gay teenager Matthew Shepard and left him to die while tied to a fence.

    These killings intensified pressure for tougher federal hate-crimes legislation. Today, Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

    "After more than a decade of opposition and delay, we've passed inclusive hate crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are," Obama said in signing the defense budget bill that includes the new hate-crimes law.

    The new law basically expands existing hate-crime protections to outlaw attacks based on sexual orientation or gender, in addition to race, color, religion or national origin.

    In a later ceremony devoted to the new law, Obama told supporters, "No one in America should ever be afraid to walk down the street holding the hand of the person they love." He cited statistics that in these past 10 years, there have been more than 12,000 hate crimes based on sexual orientation.

    "We will never know how many incidents were never reported at all," Obama said.

    Opponents called the hate-crimes bill unnecessary, noting that Shepard's and Byrd's attackers were convicted in state criminal courts. Some critics objected to the inclusion of hate-crimes legislation in a defense budget bill.

    "The president has used his position as commander in chief to advance a radical social agenda, when he should have used it to advance legislation that would unequivocally support our troops," said U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., chairman of the House Republican Conference.

    Pence also argued that the law could be used to curb free speech rights, such as with religions that consider homosexuality a sin.

    Gay rights groups hailed the law.

    "President Obama and Congress have sent a message that violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people is wrong and that our community should not be excluded from the protections of our nation's laws," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

    In signing the bill, Obama paid tribute to one of its sponsors, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy. He also singled out another longtime advocate: Judy Shepard, Matthew's mother, who personally lobbied the president earlier this year.

    "I promised Judy Shepard, when she saw me in the Oval Office, that this day would come, and I'm glad that she and her husband, Dennis, could join us for this event," Obama said.

    In a statement, Mrs. Shepard -- who was at the White House again -- said she never dreamed it would take 10 years for the new law to become a reality.

    "We are incredibly grateful to Congress and the president for taking this step forward on behalf of hate crime victims and their families, especially given the continuing attacks on people simply for living their lives openly and honestly," Shepard said.

    (Posted by David Jackson; photo by Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

    "Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it". George Constanza.

  • #2
    Lovely gesture, but what's the Federal case. I haven't read the legislation yet, do you have a link maybe. Seems to me to be an issue to be addressed by individual states.
    Today's Quote:

    "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits."
    Albert Einstein


    • #3
      Since when does this Congress worry about the Constitution?


      • #4
        Hate crimes do not provide equal protection under the law. They give greater protections to certain classes.
        Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

        I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


        • #5
          I do not support any of the existing or proposed Hate Crime legislation.

          Hate Crime = Thought Crime
          ...hunter of the shadows is rising...


          • #6
            You know, I hadn't looked at it in the sense of Art 1, Sec 8... but the whole Hate Crime legislation movement was already addressed by the USSC in Apprendi and I thiought it was limited to sentencing enhancements (which I can support)


            • #7
              Nope. No authority. No way. No how. But that won't stop them.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by nolo
                You know, I hadn't looked at it in the sense of Art 1, Sec 8... but the whole Hate Crime legislation movement was already addressed by the USSC in Apprendi and I thiought it was limited to sentencing enhancements (which I can support)
                Apprendi was actually one of our local cases that made its way up to the Supreme Court. I forget the facts actually since I know longer do excessive sentence appeals.

                Anyway, the defense attorney on the case has that in all his advertisements, including the phone book.

                "Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it". George Constanza.


                • #9
                  hey ex-army, do you have a bigger version of that avatar???
                  "First of all, then we have to say the American public overwhelmingly voted for socialism when they elected President Obama." - Al Sharpton, March 21, 2010


                  • #10
                    There are some serious issues. The Violence Against Women Act, which is in a similar vein, did not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

                    I think you also have to look to the Fourteenth Amendment. Subsection 5 states: "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

                    If Congress has the power to prohibit conspiracies to violate civil rights by people who are not state actors (42 U.S.C. § 1985(3)), then it should have the power to prohibit the same conduct by an individual acting alone.
                    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
                    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by dadyswat
                      Since when does this Congress worry about the Constitution?
                      Lighten up Francis!


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