Mr. Speaker, in a courthouse in Houston, Texas, where I worked 8 years as a prosecutor and 22 as a judge, there is a statement that says, ``Equal justice for all.'' I guess now we need to change that, but to the phrase, ``but more justice for some.''
This bill makes some victims more important than other victims. If someone is in a legislated protected class--as this bill does--and a crime is committed against them, the defendant is treated harsher than if the crime is committed against a victim in a nonprotected class. This legislation discriminates against victims that are not special people. It reminds me of the satire in the book ``Animal Farm'' where it says, ``all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.'' Likewise, this bill makes some victims of crime more equal than others. In my opinion, that denies nonspecial victims equal protection under the law, according to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.
The question is, is it fair to treat some victims of crime better under our law than other people who are not special? This bill makes classes of victims; first-class victims and second-class victims.
No question about it, Mr. Speaker, motive for a crime has always been admissible in a court of law. In my experience at the courthouse, courts and juries nail offenders to the wall that commit crimes based upon racial hatred. Perfect example is the example that my friend, SHEILA JACKSON-LEE, just referred to in the Jasper killing. Without a hate law in Texas, the individuals that committed that crime against that individual, Mr. Byrd, two of them got the death penalty--and unlike some States, we execute folks in Texas--they have been executed, and the other person got a life sentence. No question about it, motive is admissible in all crimes in all courtrooms. However, this legislation is not the answer. It will chill free speech, while making some victims less important than others.
American law has always punished the act. This law changes that to punish the thought process of individuals and does make some people more special than others when it comes to being victims of crime, and that ought not to be.
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