Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Constitutionality of Hate Crimes Prevention Act Upheld

U.S. v. Hatch, 2013 WL 3336809 (7/3/13) (N.M.) (Published) - The 10th upholds the constitutionality of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act as a Congressional exercise of its powers under the Thirteenth Amendment. Congress could decide that racially motivated violence is a badge and incident of slavery and criminalize it. The 10th felt bound to follow Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co., 392 U.S. 409 (1968), which held Congress had the power pursuant to the 13th Amendment to forbid discrimination in buying and selling property. The 10th found that under Jones Congress can rationally define most forms of racial discrimination as badges and incidents of slavery and legislate accordingly. The 10th was impressed with defense arguments, relying on the Tenth Amendment and Commerce Clause cases, that post-Jones federalism cases call into question giving Congress what amounts to police power the states are supposed to exclusively have. The 10th shared the defense's concerns, but believed it was up to the S. Ct. to modify its Jones decision. Plus the 10th thought the Hate Crimes Act had principles limiting Congressional power that are consistent with the limiting principles it saw in Jones. (1) The Act is confined to aspects of race---"race, color, religion or national origin"---as understood when the 13th Amendment was adopted. Congress placed non-racial classifications in another section where there must be an interstate connection. (2) The state of mind requirement further restricts the Act's reach. (3) Congress could rationally conclude physically attacking someone to assert superiority over that race is a badge or incident of slavery. Congress's requirement that the DOJ certify the prosecution was "in the public interest and necessary to secure substantial justice" was okay even though it was so toothless that the government certified this case where the state adequately punished the defendants involved - the federal sentence was concurrent with the state sentence.