Lawmakers in Washington have passed a hate crime legislation that is attached to the National Defense Authorization Bill, which continues funding for military operations. The legislation calls for harsher punishment for troops that kill based on sexual preference, gender, or race. Because of the hate crime legislation, Senator Jim DeMint is now in opposition to the bill.
“I call it legislative extortion when they attached something like this that is, I mean, the same crimes should be punished the same, not based on what we were thinking,” says DeMint.
Now, DeMint is being attacked for not being in favor of a bill that gives the troops funding. However, he says he does want the funding for the troops, but he’s not voting for a bill that calls for higher punishment based on what the individual was thinking when he or she killed someone. DeMint says the question remains: how does someone know what another person was thinking?
“They don’t know, and I’m most afraid that the whole point of this is to get at what we say, our freedom of speech. Because as this law takes hold, I’m afraid if you say something that’s critical of someone that’s of a different race, or gender, or sexual preference, they’re going to say that was hate speech, but they’re saying that’s not going to happen, but I’ve seen how laws evolve and all they have to do is use that law to start filing lawsuits,” says DeMint.
DeMint says the hate crime legislation takes away from the equality of the nation’s laws.
“I just think the whole idea of equal justice under the law, which is what’s carved above the Supreme Court, is threatened once you start saying: ‘If you committed a crime against this person, your punishment is different than if you committed the same crime against another person. I think anyone who commits crime against my children should be punished just as equally as someone who commits crime against someone else’s children,” says DeMint.
The senator says the whole idea of attaching the legislation to a funding bill is undermining the justice system.
Senator Lindsey Graham is also in opposition to the Defense Authorization bill. In a statement Graham says “the Hate Crimes provision has no place on a bill authorizing the operations of the Department of Defense. As a result of its inclusion, I could not vote in support of the bill. I am truly disappointed this provision was added to a bill that is supposed to be about supporting our troops.” Graham goes on to says that Congress has once again overstepped its bounds.