Issue: S. 937, COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. Question: On Motion to Suspend the Rules and Pass (2/3 vote required).
Result: Passed in House, 364 to 62, 3 not voting. Originated in Senate, passed 4-22-21, Senate Vote 165. Became Public Law 117–13 (signed by the President, 5-20-21). GOP and Democrats scored.
Freedom First Society: The primary reason for opposition to this legislation should be its focus on “hate crime” as opposed to crime itself. Such focus supports the Leftist agenda to use the force of government ostensibly to promote “equity.” The victim’s race or sexual orientation becomes more important than the severity of the crime.
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There are several other clear constitutional objections to this measure, which are apparent from reading the Bill Summary by Congressional Research Services (see Read More, below). The “COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act” is not a new revolutionary advance of Big Brother government. It is a continuation of previous unconstitutional usurpations.
We have assigned (good vote) to the Nays and (bad vote) to the Yeas. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Bill Summary (Congressional Research Service):
Passed Senate (04/22/2021)
COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act
This bill requires a designated officer or employee of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes and reports of hate crimes.
DOJ must issue guidance for state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies on establishing online hate crime reporting processes, collecting data disaggregated by protected characteristic (e.g., race or national origin), and expanding education campaigns.
Additionally, DOJ and the Department of Health and Human Services must issue guidance aimed at raising awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.
The bill establishes grants for states to create state-run hate crimes reporting hotlines. It also authorizes grants for states and local governments to implement the National Incident-Based Reporting System and to conduct law enforcement activities or crime reduction programs to prevent, address, or respond to hate crimes.
Finally, in the case of an individual convicted of a hate crime offense and placed on supervised release, the bill allows a court to order that the individual participate in educational classes or community service as a condition of supervised release.
Freedom First Society Analysis: Every paragraph in the “Bill Summary” above cites a provision or provisions of the legislation that are simply unconstitutional. For example: “The bill establishes grants” enables the federal government to “buy” state “subservience” to its campaign against “hate crime,” a reversal of the state-federal government relationship intended by America’s Founding Fathers.
One, will look in vain for any federal authority to intrude into such purely state matters. Nevertheless, there is already a body of federal law allowing federal prosecution of certain hate crimes, which this Act would build on (e.g., Title I of the Civil Rights Act or 1968).
And the last paragraph, allowing a court to provide conditions of probation is an absolutely audacious case of federal overreach.
Instead of chasing hate crime, the federal government should focus on “undoing” its attack on religion and the family, which has spawned an increase in violent criminals. In his 1969 book, Journey into Darkness, John Douglas, the legendary FBI profiler and expert on the criminal personality, argued:
Unfortunately, no matter what we do with our criminal justice system, the only thing that is going to cut down appreciably on crimes of violence and depravity is to stop manufacturing as many criminals…. [T]he real struggle must be where it has always been: in the home.
And the home has been the target of the liberal agenda for decades.
The leadership to reduce criminal violence has to come from an informed electorate, inspiring legislators to dance to a different tune.
From the Congressional Record (5-8-21) [Emphasis added]:
Although 62 GOP representatives voted against the COVID-19 Hates Crime Act, few took the floor to voice their opposition in these sham “debates.” Perhaps the most sense was offered by Rep. Chip Roy, whom we quote next:
Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas):
“Madam Speaker, nobody in this Chamber believes that there isn’t work to do in the area of ensuring that crimes are not committed against any American but, in particular, due to their race, their color, their national origin, or anything about who they are.
“Many on this side of the aisle, including the gentlewoman who spoke before from California, raised concern about the sort of nature of this legislation and a lot of the concerns that have been raised about its continued focus on hate crimes in many ways at the expense of our focusing on crime, crime itself.
“In the findings in this piece of legislation, of course, we reference the terrible tragedy that unfolded in Atlanta, Georgia, and much of that was a rush to be included in the form of hate crimes when the facts being borne out in the investigation among prosecutors and the investigators in Georgia are indicating that that was not at all or didn’t seem to be the motivation. And I use careful words like “seem to be” because, as a former Federal prosecutor, I like to wait until you do the investigation before you jump to the conclusion of what the motive was or what actually went into the crime at hand….
“I think we do our Nation a disservice when we spend every waking moment on this floor divvying us up by race. Increasingly, that is what we are doing.
“This legislation is well-intended, but this legislation, in the eyes of many in this body, is flawed, in terms of having in it things like the Health Equity Task Force or designate an officer or employee at DOJ whose responsibility shall be to facilitate the expedited review of hate crimes. We have provisions in the legislation to encourage the collection of data, encourage local law enforcement to collect data on hate crimes, but to seek to do so specifically to focus on hate crimes.
“It is the contention of many of my colleagues that this is, in fact, a continued focus of division in our country, rather than focusing on the fact of the crime itself, the murder itself.”
Freedom First Society: Well said, Mr. Roy. However, we think you are unnecessarily generous to say the legislation is well intended.