What is wrong with 'Hate Crimes' Legislation?

Comment: No one is in favor of 'hate crimes'. Of course, the first problem comes with trying to clearly define a 'hate crime'. A 'crime', by definition, breaks the law and there are specific punishments for various crimes.  Does what was going on in the mind or heart of the perpetrator make a crime worse? Should our law enforcement officials become the 'thought police?'

As you can see below, this is a complicated subject with the potential to have far-reaching consequences.  This bill needs to be defeated. This bill passed the U.S. House 249-175. and has been sent to the U.S. Senate.

Voting YES: Democrats Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper.
Voting NO: Republicans Marsha Blackburn, John Duncan, Phil Roe and Zach Wamp. Democrats Lincoln Davis,Bart Gordon and John Tanner.

Senate bill on deck: S.909
Title: A bill to provide Federal assistance to States, local jurisdictions, and Indian tribes to prosecute hate crimes, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Sen Kennedy, Edward M. [MA] (introduced 4/28/2009) Cosponsors (34)

Cong. Steve King (R, Iowa) on the Hate Crimes bill

In what Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R, VA) called "an atrocity," the House Rules Committee on Tuesday imposed a "closed rule" on debate and amendments, limiting debate to 120 minutes.  However, contest of the rule was permitted between both sides for one hour, giving Republicans a preliminary opportunity to lay out objections to the hate bill.  They failed in their attempt to lengthen the debate, and the original 120 minutes of debate ensued.

Here are highlights of the Republican opposition:

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R, NC) said HR 1913 will open a new category of "thought crimes" in America, moving us "down a slippery slope" to loss of freedom.  She said such has happened under hate laws in Canada and Europe.

Rep. Trent Franks (R, AZ) warned HR 1913 will end equality in America, giving special rights to federally favored groups such as homosexuals.  

Rep. Roy Blount (R, MO) echoed Foxx's admonition that hate laws have taken away free speech in Canada and Europe.

Rep. Steve King (R, IA) repeated the warning of his amendment in Judiciary last week, saying pedophiles and many other deviants will obtain special rights and protection under HR 1913.

Rep. Mary Fallin (R, OK) referenced loss of free speech in Canada and Great Britain but also how the "Philly 11" Christians were persecuted under Pennsylvania's hate law.

Rep. Foxx returned, saying a federal hate law would preempt the 10th Amendment which delegates most law enforcement to the states.  She said the claim that Matt Sheppard was murdered because he was a homosexual was a "hoax;" he was killed, she said as the victim of a robbery.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, TX) charged HR 1913 will divide America into groups of more favored versus less.  He again cited USC Title 18, Section 2a, the foundation of HR 1913, which says anyone who through speech "induces" commission of a violent hate crime "will be tried as a principal" alongside the active offender.  He said there is no "epidemic" of hate in America.

Hate crimes' bill okayed; 'sexual orientation' remains undefined

“Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas) reinforced the notion that people could be prosecuted for having a particular belief. "We also need to protect those potential victims who may be the recipients of hateful words or hateful acts, or even violent acts," said the Democratic lawmaker.”
As you can see from the articles linked above, this is one of the most important issues to come before Congress. If this is imposed on our nation, we will see widespread application and enforcement and it will eventually apply to the pulpit as it has in other countries. If you doubt that, read the section of federal law below, especially (b).
Title 18: § 2. Principals
(a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
(b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.
          That is where pastors who are intent and committed to preaching the WHOLE gospel will get caught. For instance, if a person hears a sermon on homosexuality, then goes out and commits some terrible crime, the pastor could be accused of ‘causing’ a crime.

Details surrounding current Hate Crimes legislation in Congress:

  • H.R. 1913, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.
  • Introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) on April 20, 2009.
  • 81 current co-sponsors.
  • Hearings have been held in the House Judiciary Committee
  • TN Cong. Steve Cohen D-Memphis is one of  the Cosponsors.
  • Some history:  The last time Congress considered hate crimes, the bill number was H.R. 1592, which passed by a vote of 237-180 on May 3, 2007 (Roll Call 299).

What does the bill do?

  • Makes hate crimes (a crime in which the victim is intentionally selected based on his or her race, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.) a federal offense.
  • Adds “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as protected classes to the U.S. criminal code (Title 18).
  • Mandates federal criminal prosecution for stateoffenses, with the possibility of life imprisonment, for crimes motivated by the “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person.”

What is wrong with all of this?

  • H.R. 1913 is a dangerous and unprecedented proposal, which will transform the criminal justice system and threaten religious liberty.  It is both unnecessary and unconstitutional!

Why is this bill unconstitutional?

  • Violates both the 1st and 14th Amendments by infringing upon these constitutional guarantees:
    • Freedom of speech—aims to silence and punish all opposing viewpoints
      • For example, this bill requires criminal investigations to probe if a crime occurred “because of” bias towards a protected group, and opens the door to criminal investigations of a suspect’s philosophical beliefs, politics, biases, religion, activities, and past statements (i.e. saying that you may disagree with homosexuality)
    • Equal Protection Under the Law—grants more government protection to certain classes of people
      • Creates unequal treatment of victims by treating crimes against protected groups more seriously than non-protected groups (e.g. the murder of a homosexual victim will be treated more seriously than a heterosexual victim)
    • Religious Expression—targets faith groups, specifically Christians, who hold traditional beliefs on homosexuality
      • Threatens religious leaders and groups with a criminal prosecution and investigations into a suspect’s thoughts, beliefs and statements.
      • For example, if a minister were to give a sermon, stating that homosexuality is morally wrong, and a member of that congregation later goes out and murders a gay person, the motivation for that murder could be traced back to the minister’s remarks. 

Why is it unnecessary?

  • The underlying offense (whether it be murder, assault, etc.) is already fully and aggressively prosecuted in all 50 states. 
  • FBI statistics show that the incidence of hate crimes has actually decreased over the last ten years.
    • Less than 17% of all law enforcement agencies reported a single hate crime in 2005. 
  • We just need strict enforcement of existing laws!! 


  • All violent crimes are hate crimes and all violent criminals should be severely punished. 
  • Elevating particular groups of victims above others is not the answer to decreasing crime in America. 
  • We must enforce existing laws so that all violent criminals know they will pay for their actions.