Pros And Cons Of Hate Crime Laws

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Hate crimes have been a long-lasting reality in the United States beginning in the nation’s history with eradicating Native American populations, slavery, and xenophobia. As a result, forty-five states have adopted hate crime laws to combat organized hate groups from preying upon the most vulnerable groups in society. Hate crime laws provide special protections to the groups that are most frequently targeted by hate crimes including African Americans, LGBT, Jews, and Muslims. Although there has been much debate over what groups should be protected by hate crime laws, evidently there are groups that have been historically targeted at a much higher rate than others. Hence why most states exclude other groups that are not in as much need for protections in hate crime legislation. What distinguishes a hate crime from any other crime is motive. In order for a crime to be considered a hate crime, it must be motivated by the group membership of the victim. Critics of hate crime laws have argued that they are unconstitutional and violate First Amendment protections of free speech, association, and freedom of thought. Opponents of hate crime laws refer to the Supreme Court decision in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992) in which freedom of thought was determined to be implied by the First Amendment. Supporters of hate crime laws argue that such legislation is indeed constitutional based on the Supreme Court decision in Wisconsin v. Mitchell (1993) that determined that hate crime laws

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