Among its many defects, the proposed federal hate crimes bill virtually ensures that some defendants will face double jeopardy, whatever the outcome of their cases. It all depends on the whims of the folks occupying the Attorney General’s office, who may want to score political points at a defendant’s expense.
The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S. 909) now before the Senate, establishes “thought crime,” violates equal protection by making some victims more important than others, elevates “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to be equivalent to civil rights categories like race, and greatly expands the federal role in criminal law.
In short, it’s a grab bag of ways to violate genuine constitutional rights while addressing a non-issue. There is no compelling evidence that bias-motivated crimes are not being handled properly and perpetrators punished.
One of the bill’s more dangerous features is its boldly stated authorization for the feds to intervene in any case they determine has not met “the federal interest in eradicating bias-motivated violence." Under current law, the feds can narrowly invoke their authority in cases where a “hate crime” has prevented someone from engaging in federally protected activities such as voting. The new law opens wide the door for the feds to barge in.