House Approves Hate Crimes Measure

Posted by Tim Lynch
Cato Institute
October 9, 2009

Last night, the House of Representatives approved a defense spending measure that included a totally unrelated bill that would ban so-called “hate crimes.”

I’ve testified twice against federal hate crimes proposals. Here’s the case against the law (in brief):

First, the federal hate crime law is unconstitutional because it is beyond the powers of Congress.

Second, the law will not prevent violent crime. Anyone already inclined to kill or beat up another human being is not going to reverse course because Congress passes a new law against violence motivated by bias.

Third, the law does take the state too close to the realm of thought crimes. In order for a prosecutor to prove the “hate” aspect, detectives have to dig into a person’s life, thoughts, writings, conversations, etc., to gather the “evidence.” There’s no good reason to go there because — let’s remember — violent acts are already against the law!

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