Thursday the US Senate voted to approve the most sweeping hate crimes bill in US History. The Bill which is known as the The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act, passed 63-28, and is supported by the President who will sign it into law. Senator Ted Kennedy has been trying to pass this bill since 1997. The Bill was vetoed by President Bush, one of the former President's few positve acts. Attourney General Eric Holder urged Congress to give his department authority to prosecute hate crimes which have traditionally been prosecuted by local and state governments. Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) co-sponsored the Bill in the Senate with Ted Kennedy, was able to fast track the bill by amending the National Defense Authorization Act to include the hate bill.
In Testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee Attorney General Eric Holder admits no equal protection under hate bill. Holder was asked by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) if the federal hate bill S. 909 will equally protect all Americans from violent crimes? Holder explicitly says the hate bill will not provide equal protection to most Americans. Holders says that the bill is to protect specific groups that have a history of being targeted by violence because of the color of their skin or sexual orientation. The Constitution grants equal rights to all. Holder does not understand that he believes in granted special protection to certain groups that have historically been persecuted or discriminated against. This Bill does not provide equal protection to all Americans and is therefore unconstitutional. It grants special rights to certain groups while making the rest of us 2nd class citizens.
See video by Rev. Ted Pike Holder Admits: No Equality Under Hate Bill .
There are already similar hate crime laws in place, however, this bill imposes much stronger federal enforcement, which is a clear violation of the Tenth Amendment. It grants greater power to federal prosecutors to prosecute hate crime laws by prosecuting those who have been found innocent by local or state courts to be prosecuted by the Federal Government.
Senator Sam Brownback submited an amendment to the bill stating that that only speech that threatens imminent incitement of violence will be punishable under the hate. This amendment adresses the clause of the bill that allows for the prosecution of speakers if they influence an individual to commit a hate crime(Title 18, sec. 2A) See my article Talk Show Hosts May Be Accomplices Under Hate Bill. However the amendment could still be open for interpretation by Federal Judges and Prosecuters, therefore does not protect free speech completely .
Though we still have the First Amendment we are headed in that direction of Europe and Canada where people can be prosecuted for thought crimes. Organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League have aggressively promoted hate crime legislation. These organizations have endorsed Europe and Canada's policies on prosecuting what they deem as hate speech. The ADL openly advocates for their model anti-hate law.
The bill is unconstitutional because it violates the 10th Amendment by granting the Federal Government authority over local and state government in prosecuting hate crimes. It violates the 14th Amendment by granting certain groups special protected status, as well the double jeopardy clause of the 5th amendment. The Brownback Amendment protects the 1st Amendment to some degree but that doesn't mean it is protected completely.