Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Religious right learns the hard way - You can't win in court through fear tactics

While under the radar of many, the recent loss suffered by the religious right over hate crimes legislation should resonate due to why they loss:

The lawsuit, in which two pastors and the head of the American Family Association of Michigan sued Attorney General Eric Holder, was dismissed on technical grounds. Because of this, however, Ludington did not reach the ultimate question of whether the law's penalty enhancements are constitutional.

U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade, who serves as the federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Michigan, where the case was brought, said in a news release about the decision, ''We are very pleased with the judge's ruling upholding the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This law protects all of our citizens.''

The plaintiffs had argued that the law violates several of their constitutional rights, including their First Amendment speech and free exercise of religion rights, and the Equal Protection Clause, because, as Ludington characterized the argument, ''it creates an irrational distinction between different religious viewpoints on homosexuality.'' The plaintiffs also claimed that Congress lacked the ability to pass the law under the Commerce Clause.

The court, however, did not reach those issues because Ludington decided that the case could not be heard at this time, nor in a challenge brought by these plaintiffs.

The timing issue, called ripeness, relates to whether or not the harm claimed by the plaintiffs is timely enough to bring a court challenge. The issue of whether these are the appropriate plaintiffs was addressed by the judge in consideration of whether there is standing, which he found to be lacking.

Although the plaintiffs had not been charged with any violation of the act, which was signed into law by President Obama in October 2009, they sought a ''pre-enforcement declaration'' that the law was unconstitutional.

The court first addressed the standing question, noting, ''The Attorney General emphasizes that the Act prohibits only willful, violent conduct – 'willfully caus[ing] bodily injury to any person' or attempting to cause such injury 'through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device.'''

After detailing the potential threats of prosecution claimed by the plaintiffs, the court concluded, ''Plaintiffs have not demonstrated that 'there exists a credible threat of prosecution' under the Act.''

In other words, portents of doom or claiming that pro-gay legislation will harm children, force people to "accept homosexuality, etc. may unfortunately work in school board meetings, on the editorial pages, and on The 700 Club or Fox News, but playing that game in court without proof just ain't gonna cut it.

And that's something to remember because based on my countdown clock on the right, it's almost a year anniversary since President Obama signed lgbt-inclusive hate crimes legislation into law and a pastor has yet to be arrested for "proclaiming homosexuality to be a sin." Remember the following poster:

I wonder if Peter LaBarbera, Matt Barber, Gary Glenn or the rest would accept a nice piece of crow if sent to them wrapped in that poster.

Related posts:

Why can't Matt Barber stop lying about hate crimes legislation?

How to scare the bejesus out of Christians with a failed game plan

It's just good for FRC that crimes against truth aren't tracked
Family Research Council brags about ability to fool 80,000 people 

They came, they protested, they got ignored: Anti-hate crimes legislation rally a huge disaster
Let the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission wallow in the filth of its own ignorance

Christian Anti-Defamation Commission defends exorcists and hate groups from the 'scary gays'


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1 comment:

Guano said...

I'm still not clear why nobody ever brings up Wisconsin v. Mitchell when these people say hate crimes "muzzle free speech".

The Supreme Court already answered that question.