Prepared for the Senate Judiciary Committee
June 23, 2009
Family Research Council
The Family Research Council strongly opposes the enactment of a Federal hate crimes law (H.R. 1913).
Hate crime laws force the court to guess the thoughts and beliefs which lie behind a crime, instead of looking at the crime itself, in order to prosecute and convict someone of a hate crime. Violent crimes are already punishable by law. "Hate crime" laws put the perpetrator's thoughts and beliefs on trial. Hate crime laws are tantamount to federally prosecuting "thought crimes." The Family Research Council believes that all crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and that every violent crime has some form of hate behind it. All around the country, crimes are being prosecuted in the state justice systems. American justice is being done. There is simply no need for a federal hate crimes law.
Even more distressing is the impact that Federal hate crime laws could have upon religious communities. Examples from Europe and Canada have shown what hate crime laws can do to the Christian community. In some countries, pastors have been threatened for what they preach in the pulpit and passing out the Bible can lead to hate crime prosecution. While the bill before us is ostensibly limited to acts which cause "bodily harm," it would put us on a slippery slope toward the punishment of so-called "hate speech" as well.
A federal hate crime law is unnecessary and violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.