Though hate crimes deserve condemnation, we opposed a piece of legislation that would have expanded the scope of the Hate Crimes Sentencing Act in a way which could have established a hate crime based solely on the defendant’s speech without a finding of animus. We expressed particular concerns over an expansion of the definition of “hate crime” to any person or group being the target of a crime “in whole or in part” due to a protected characteristic such as race. We noted the law could be used against, for example, Black Lives Matter protestors charged with a minor offense resulting from a protest against systemic racism. While this bill did pass the Senate, it died in committee in the House after expressions of opposition from the ACLU and other advocacy groups.
Hate Crimes Sentencing Act (H 6147 A, S 803)
Representative Mary Ann Shallcross Smith and Senator Stephen Archambault
Passed Senate, Died in House