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Tuesday, 4th March 2008

CRS -- Constitutional Limits on Hate Crime Legislation

Constitutional Limits on Hate Crime Legislation (PDF; 73 KB)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Federal and state legislators recognize the special concerns and effects of hate crimes. Although there is some federal legislation in place, many states have enacted some form of ethnic intimidation law or bias-motivated sentence-enhancement factors in attempts to curtail hate crimes. Several United States Supreme Court cases provide the framework in which states must legislate to ensure the constitutionality of hate crime legislation. After these landmark cases, the real questions for states involve identifying permissible ways to curtail hate crimes without infringing on any constitutionally protected rights. On the federal level, in light of U.S. Supreme Court cases, the question remains as to what extent Congress can broaden the classes of individuals subject to hate crime legislation. This report discusses constitutional considerations facing both individual states and Congress in enacting hate crime legislation. It will be updated as events warrant.


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