Alex Blaze

Hate crimes law and disordered sexual behavior

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 02, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: AFA, hate crimes against LGBT people, legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Michigan

I can't find anything in traditional media about this, but the Thomas More Law Center says they're suing to overturn the Matthew Shepard Act. This group is known for silly lawsuits, the kinds that make even those who feel like Americans need a strong and responsive judicial branch roll their eyes, like when they sued the federal government for bailing out AIG because they sold insurance they thought Muslims would like in Muslim countries or when they sued Janet Napolitano because of that memo that said rightwing militias might get violent (where did they ever get that idea?).

It's hard to tell from their release just why they're suing - it seems like a big part of their case is that gays are evil perverts so the government shouldn't be protecting them:

All of the plaintiffs "take a strong public stand against the homosexual agenda, which seeks to normalize disordered sexual behavior that is contrary to Biblical teaching," the Law Center said in a news release.

I guess they don't know that the Establishment Clause doesn't go so far as to prohibit Congress from passing a law that makes a certain religion mad. Or they do, since they're lawyers and that's pretty basic. Or they just hate gays and were trying to look for a way to include that.

They provide a few more details:

The lawsuit alleges that the new law violates the plaintiffs' rights to freedom of speech, expressive association, and free exercise of religion protected by the First Amendment, and it violates the equal protection guarantee of the Fifth Amendment. The lawsuit also alleges that Congress lacked authority to enact the legislation under the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The lawsuit says the Hate Crimes Prevention Act "provides law enforcement with authorization and justification to conduct federal investigative and other federal law enforcement actions against Plaintiffs and others deemed to be opponents of homosexual activism, the homosexual lifestyle, and the homosexual agenda," thereby expanding the jurisdiction of the FBI and other federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering agencies.

I don't see how the free speech, expressive association, equal protection, and Tenth Amendment stuff doesn't also apply to the federal hate crimes law that's been on the books since the 60's. The religion one arguably could have been made about previous hate crimes legislation - if a preacher says Islam is wrong and a parishioner goes out and commits a crime against a Muslim (that's usually their argument about how hate crimes legislation violates freedom of religion), then the preacher is just as liable as they are now. Which is to say, not at all.

Maybe the point is just to try to raise awareness about this issue, since according to the Eugene Volokh post linked to before the jump, these folks aren't the best litigators.

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They are trying to establish a new precedent, using the same archtypes of fear that they always have.

Fortunately, I suspect this particular case where go where their others have gone:

the wastebasket.

Donna Pandori Donna Pandori | February 2, 2010 7:41 PM

I was waiting to see how long it would take these people to pull this.

seems like a big part of their case is that gays are evil perverts so the government shouldn't be protecting them

yah, I'm sure they would like to see us be sent to concentration camps.

They say this law is illegal because Congress does not have the authority to enact such legislation under the US Constitution (10th ammendment and Commerce clause). If that is true, the court will have to invalidate ALL federal hate crimes legislation. I wonder what groups like the NAACP, SCLC, NOW, JAL, et. al. will do if that happens... ...and what would SCOTUS say?

They don't have standing. The law doesn't apply to them or their activities. Furthermore, the law protects them as well.

Add to that they lie in stating only 243 incidents were recorded in 2008 pertaining to sexual orientation. According to the FBI stats 1297 incidents were recorded in 2008 and likely more than that actually happened because reporting of crimes based in sexual orientation does not occur in all jurisdictions. That included 5 murders, 6 rapes, 232, aggravated assaults, which add up to their 243 incidents. But there were 501 cases of simple assault and 419 acts of intimidation and 324 cases of vandalism.

Oddly enough religion has been covered by hate crimes since its inception. The offense type for religion, however, is skewed more towards act of vandalism. If one were to use their own standard as to whether religion should be included in hate crimes then with only 1 rape and 47 aggravated assaults then a total of 48 incidents for religion would not suffice that religion should be included in hate crimes laws. That out of a total of 1519 total incidents.


Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | February 3, 2010 7:21 AM

Not only don't they have "standing", they don't even have "sitting". As to Alex's comment concerning the Establishment Clause not going far enough to prohibit Congress from passing laws that may make a certain religion mad, it will only be a matter of time until some wingnut Congressperson starts the amendment process to rectify that gross oversignt by the Founding Persons.

twinkie 1 cat | February 3, 2010 11:56 AM

I think I know what they would be afraid of and that would be one of the anti-gay terrorist groups being held responsible if one of its members kills a gay person. This is borne out when the government goes after Al-Quaida as an organization when a terrorist blows up something. But it also comes closer to home because a few years ago in Mobile Alabama members of the KKK lynched a black teenager. The KKK was held responsible and lost their property in a civil suit by the Southern Poverty Law Center to the boy's mother. There is a lot of similarity and probably crossover in the KKK and these anti-gay groups. Have you noticed how the anti-abortion groups quickly distance themselves from the murderers of abortion providers. You would think they never heard of them.

Filing idiotic lawsuits like this is win/win for them. If they win the suit they can crow about their victories and ask for more donations. If they lose they can wail about "activist judges" and ask for more donations.

They are making a nice living doing this and have found a very nice formula to maintain their incomes. They don't care if their actions oppress people as long as they've got theirs.