Arguments Against Hate Crime Laws

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Hate crime What distinguishes a hate crime from other crimes is an underlying motivation based on the victim’s group membership. There has been much debate over the constitutionality of hate crime laws and which groups (if any) should be protected by such legislation. Those against hate crime laws argue that it is a violation of First Amendment protections of free, association, and freedom of thought. The Supreme Court confirmed that freedom of thought is implied by the First Amendment in R.A.V. v. St. Paul which those against hate crime laws argue makes such laws unconstitutional. The argument for hate crime laws is supported by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993) that hate crime laws punish conduct rather than thought. …show more content…

According to Gerstenfeld, hate crimes “may or may not include sexual orientation, gender, national origin, physical or mental disability, age, or political affiliation.” Some argue that every group should be protected by hate crime legislation, but this runs the risk of watering down the significance of such protections. The groups that are most frequently targeted by hate crimes including African Americans, gays and lesbians, Jews, and Muslims should be prioritized over other groups. Historically, the most targeted groups in the United States are African Americans, LGBT community, Jews, and Muslims. These groups are undoubtedly in the most need for protections provided by hate crime laws. A suiting definition for hate crimes is an adaptation from Gerstenfeld chapter 1: The Whys and Hows of Hate Crime Laws: crimes that are committed based on the race, religion, ethnicity, and sexual orientation of the victim. Another definition of hate crimes that was considered was the Massachusetts legal definition of hate crimes that was discussed in Englander’s article Is Bullying a Junior Hate Crime? Which included disability, color, and national origin on top of the protected groups that have been

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