#1 Hate-Crime Laws and the Expansion of Federal Power--How does the Thirteenth Amendment justify making certain kinds of violence a federal crime? by Eglman 19.03.2014 09:04

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Forty-five states and the District of Columbia provide additional penalties for crimes that they classify as “hate crimes,” over and above what would have been available if the same crime been committed with a different motivation. In 2009, President Obama signed into law a federal hate-crimes statute that adds a third level of criminalization for violent crimes that occur “because of” the victim’s “actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation.”

Actual hatred is not required. It is enough that there is a causal connection between the crime and one of these grounds.

Like all federal criminal statutes, this one gives federal authorities the power to prosecute a defendant who has already been prosecuted by state authorities. They can even prosecute a defendant who has been acquitted. Double-jeopardy protections do not apply.

But can such far-reaching federal authority to try a defendant twice be justified under the Constitution, especially given how emotionally charged these prosecutions often are? In the absence of evidence that states are “falling down on the job,” shouldn’t such prosecutions be state-controlled? On Friday, the Supreme Court will decide if it will hear a case directly challenging part of the federal government’s claim of authority in this area.

The Obama Justice Department has argued that the part of the 2009 Hate Crimes Prevention Act that governs race is constitutional under the 13th Amendment, which reads that: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

How is it that one can read the 13th Amendment to prohibit criminal activity, though racial in nature, if it has nothing to do with “slavery or involuntary servitude?” The Supreme Court ruled in the 1883 Civil Rights Cases that “Congress has a right to enact all necessary and proper laws for the obliteration and prevention of slavery with all its badges and incidents.”

SNIP-

Read more:http://www.nationalreview.com/article/37...power-john-fund

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