Wednesday, August 08, 2012

8th Circuit Rejects Narrow Challenge To Hate Crimes Law

In United States v. Maybee, (8th Cir., Aug. 6, 2012), the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld against a narrow constitutional attack the constitutionality of 18 USC 249(a)(1), one of the provisions of the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The section prohibits causing bodily injury to a person because of the person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin. The case involved an assault motivated by race and national origin.  According to the court, both parties agreed that the constitutionality of the section depends on whether it is a proper exercise of Congress power under Section 2 of the 13th Amendment to ban "badges and incidents of slavery."  The court rejected the claim that to be constitutional the section needed to not only require racial motivation, but also require that the assault be motivated by the victim’s enjoyment of a public benefit. AP reports on the decision. [Thanks to Michael Lieberman for the lead.]