STATES' RIGHTS SUFFER UNDER HATE CRIME BILL
�The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.�
That�s Amendment Ten of the U.S. Constitution, and it means the federal government cannot assume authorities not specifically granted in all the other sections of the document. It�s a powerful clause and one that our wise Founding Fathers inserted to guarantee the states would retain political clout and that our �of, by and for the people� system of governance would not cave under the heavy-handed tactics of federal bureaucrats hungry for control.
It�s also a clause that means little in this age of entitlements, special interest �rights� and political correctness witness such well-established but unconstitutional programs as our nation�s welfare and Social Security systems, or the very existence of the U.S. Education Dept. and if not yet obsolete, it is surely on a steady path toward this end.
The latest attempt at 10th Amendment eradication comes in the form of H.R. 4204, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and referred to the subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, this unconstitutional piece of legislation now touts 175 cosponsors collectively stomping upon a domain that, by the very specific words contained within the 10th Amendment, ought by law to be left to the devises of separate state and local jurisdictions.
Because what H.R. 4204 creates is a police state, with the U.S. Justice Department and attorney general making the bulk of law enforcement and prosecution decisions for the entire nation.
This Hate Crimes bill gives the attorney general authority to �provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that constitutes a crime of violence under federal law or a felony under state or Indian tribal law, and is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability of the victim, or is a violation of the hate crime laws of the state or tribe.�
By that definition, a case can be made to place pretty much every crime of violence under jurisdiction of the attorney general.
The bill also gives the attorney general ability to issue grants of $100,000 to help state and local law enforcement investigate and prosecute these so-called hate crimes provided, of course, these locals in return allow federal justice officials to �ensure that the concerns and needs of all affected parties, including community groups and schools, colleges and universities, are addressed through the local infrastructure.� With community jails, courts and justice systems overburdened as they are, and cash-starved states still seeking creative sources of revenue, chances are strong this is one quid pro quo, trading cash for control, that will multiply rather quickly.
Section Seven of H.R. 4202, meanwhile, even stipulates the prison sentences for those found guilty of such hate crimes, negating any need for local and state courts and judges at all except to decide cases akin to petty thefts and nonviolent domestic affairs, it would seem.
What�s even more egregious than the bill�s trampling of the 10th Amendment, though, is its pathetic attempt to show a real concern for the Constitution and convince the American public that such a piece of legislation is truly aligned with the intent of the Founding Fathers.
Justifying the bill�s creation are these phrases: �Perpetrators cross state lines to commit such violence.� �Channels, facilities and instrumentalities of interstate commerce are used to facilitate the commission of such violence.� �Such violence is committed using articles that have traveled in interstate commerce.�
Therefore, �the problem of crimes motivated by bias is sufficiently serious, widespread and interstate in nature as to warrant federal assistance to states and local jurisdictions,� the bill continues.
And when, more specifically, is that �federal assistance� warranted? Section Seven illuminates.
When the crime crosses state or national borders, when the crime �interferes with commercial or other economic activity in which the victim is engaged,� or when the crime �otherwise affects interstate or foreign commerce.�
That�s a broad definition that allows for the likes of an ATM robbery or work-place purse-snatching to take on federal proportions.
That�s also a serious misinterpretation of the Constitution�s commerce clause giving Congress the authority to �regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes,� and one that should not be allowed as means of usurping our system of states� rights that is, believe it or not, still listed as a provision of national law.
� 2002 Cheryl Chumley - All Rights Reserved
Cheryl K. Chumley is a former award-winning reporter and columnist. Her coverage has ranged from the 2000 presidential election, on scene for the Democrat National Convention in L.A. and for election night in Nashville, Tenn., to small town courts and police.
Highlights of her career include investigations
into tort reform that took her to Texas, researched pieces on Ritalin
that won her praise from a Mayo Clinic physician who called her work the
most thorough and balanced he had ever read, and an in-depth analysis
of land rights and national monuments that led her to Utah. She now writes
predominantly on topics aligned with the Constitution, individual freedoms,
free market principle and Christian perspective, with an eye toward exposing
the real truths behind the purported. She may be reached for comment or
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"The latest attempt at 10th Amendment eradication comes in the form of H.R. 4204, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act."