Many bills are deceivingly worded to evoke support. Such is the case for HR 1913, the "Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009," introduced by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). The problem with this so-called hate crimes legislation is a severe lack of definition. Furthermore, the bill threatens to criminalize thought in an unprecedented Orwellian nature.
House Republicans want all violent crimes to be punished appropriately, including those motivated against someone due to their personal traits like race, nationality or religion. This bill, however, goes far beyond reasonable means, threatening religious freedom, freedom of speech, equal justice under the law and basic principles of federalism, according to Republican Leadership.
The bill includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” as part of a big tent agenda to prosecute violent crimes more harshly if they are motivated by "hate." However, the bill does not include certain other classes, like senior citizens, unborn children, pregnant women, members of the military, police officers, or victims of prior crimes. It is unfair, and unjust, to protect one group more than any other.
More importantly, this bill threatens freedom of speech and religion because religious leaders or groups could be prosecuted for speaking out on their religious beliefs. They could be seen as having biased motives for violence, though this would be uneasily defined or proved because of so few details defined in the bill. The same people could be prosecuted under federal conspiracy law for “aiding and abetting” if a person influenced by their speech commits a supposed “hate crime.”
Most states already employ their own hate crimes legislation, but Democrats feel the need to put a federal law in place.
This legislation favors one group over another, protecting one class over another. Instead of passing a federal hate crimes law, the government should “respect it’s constitutional role and the principles of federalism and assist state and local efforts to enforce existing laws, instead of usurping state and local authority to investigate and prosecute hate crimes that are not committed across state lines,” according to the Republican Leadership and the Committee on Judiciary Republicans.