What Will Happen To Criminal Laws Regarding Hate C
When a conservative gets appointed, left swaying Americans worry about their background and fairness when it comes to social issues like prejudice and stereotypes. Senator Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump's nominee for United States Attorney General, has many concerned.
Specifically, they question his ability to uphold the Byrd Hate Crime Act passed in 2009. Due to his public stance on the Act, civil rights advocates are nervous that there may be some major chipping away of hate crime enforcement if Sessions is appointed.
It isn’t just civil rights advocates that are nervous, so too are left-leaning Americans. Since Sessions was vehemently opposed to the Hate Crime Act in 2009, the notion that he could potentially be responsible for enforcing it at a federal level through the Department of Justice makes people wonder if he will provide too much leniency and not enforce the law as it is intended.
Sessions has already been rejected as a nominee to the federal judiciary by the Senate due to some racial comments that he made before he was elected to his Senate position. Although he was finally appointed, there are residual questions about his ability to represent the nation’s civil rights laws as outlined.
What is the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crime Act?
The federal hate-crime law was named after Matthew Shepard and James Byrd. A student at Wyoming University, Shepard died in 1998 after he was tortured because he was a homosexual. James Byrd, a Texan African-American man, was dismembered after he was dragged behind a pickup truck by self-proclaimed white supremacists. The bill was an attempt to expand current hate-crime definitions to be more inclusive.
The act, which bears both their names, gave federal prosecutors more options to prosecute violent hate crimes perpetrated for racial reasons. The new laws protected people from prosecution based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. The law also directs those most egregious hate crimes to be prosecuted under the Department of Justice as a federal crime.
The mandate is an outline of how hate crimes are to be prosecuted and procedural conditions that have to be established for a hate-crime classification to be made after they find a criminal lawyer to defend their actions. Carrying more severe punishments, the definitions for a hate-crime prosecution have to follow specific guidelines.
Senator Sessions’ direct opposition to the Hate Crimes Act leaves many wondering what steps he will take to prosecute hate crimes that come before the DOJ. Since the Attorney General is responsible for either following through on or dismissing hate crime prosecution, there is concern that many crimes perpetrated because of prejudice will go unpunished or will not be held to a higher standard of punishment.
Sessions voted against the measure, believing that there were simply no statistics that supported the fact that hate crimes are happening at a much greater rate. That was the argument pushing the Hate Crimes Act initiated by Obama's administration in 2009 when the act was passed.
The real statistics do show an increase in overall violence in the form of hate crimes. From 2009 to data released this week, figures showed that there was as much as a 6.8% annual increase in hate crimes. There have been over 260 anti muslim cases nationwide, which is up 67 percent.
The Shepard-Byrd Hate Crime Act expanded a decades-old criminal civil rights statute that was passed in 1968 by closing loopholes. It extended protection to groups that were originally not included like the disabled, or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender. The previous federal law was centered and based primarily on religion, race and national origin only.
Those who are concerned about Session’s appointment should be comforted that the Senator believes in the notion of law and order and the enforcement of it. Whether he voted for the Act or not probably has no relation to whether he will enforce it.
Very dogmatic about following and enforcing the rules of the land, he has a record of being tough, prosecuting people equally no matter what their background is, and is not likely to overlook laws just because he might not have agreed with them when they were put up for a vote. If he is nominated, only time will tell but his record is one of fairness and strict actions that follow the laws of the land.