Constitutional Law

Federal Hate-Crime Statute Imperils Free Speech of Religious Right, Lawsuit Contends

The Thomas More Law Center has filed a federal suit on behalf of several individuals, contending that a federal law against hate crimes violates their constitutional rights to express their religious views in opposition to homosexuality.

Scribd provides a copy of the lawsuit (PDF), which was filed yesterday in the Eastern District of Michigan. It concerns the enforceability of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, 18 U.S.C. Section 249, which has apparently never been used against the plaintiffs, according to Main Justice (reg. req.). Its article is based on an interview with attorney Robert Muise, who worked on the lawsuit.

Asserting claims under the First, Fifth and Tenth Amendments, as well as the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the suit seeks a judgment that provisions of the statute are unconstitutional and that Congress lacked the power to enact them, as well as an injunction preventing enforcement of the law against the plaintiffs. It also seeks attorney fees and other unspecified relief.

Attorney General Eric Holder is the named defendant.

Additional coverage:

Bay City Times: “Midland man, Bridgeport pastor among plaintiffs in civil rights suit challenging Hate Crimes Act”

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