Shepard's Mom Makes Appeal for Hate Crimes Legislation
The mother of slain gay college student Matthew Shepard appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday in attempt to convince members to support the Hates Crimes Prevention Act, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts.
The proposed bill would strengthen existing hate crimes legislation so that the federal government could prosecute individuals who commit violence crimes based on a person's race, religion, national origin, gender disability, or sexual orientation.
Judy Shepard told committee members, "My son Matthew was the victim of a brutal hate crime and I believe this legislation is necessary to make sure no family again has to suffer like mine."
Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin Hatch indicated that he thought the bill might be deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and urged revisions. Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar has suggested that hate crimes language be used to determine penalties, rather than to influence prosecution. Amar also suggested that the federal government might assist states in prosecuting offenders rather than trying them in separate courts.
Russell Henderson was convicted and sentenced to two life sentences for the murder of Matthew Shepard. His accomplice, Aaron McKinney, will be tried in August and could face the death penalty.
10/29/2014 North Dakota Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Restrictions - The North Dakota Supreme Court yesterday upheld a set of misguided restrictions on medication abortion, allowing what is effectively a ban on early, non-surgical abortions in the state to go into effect immediately.
The decision overturned a lower court order finding the law, known as HB 1297, unconstitutional and permanently blocking its enforcement. . . .
10/29/2014 Georgia Court Refuses to Recognize 40K Voter Registrations From Primarily People of Color and Young People - A state court judge on Tuesday refused to order the Georgia Secretary of State to add some 40,000 voters to the voter rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of African Americans and other people of color in the state.
Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR), the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP asking the court to force Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) to process an estimated 40,000 "missing" voter registrations.
More than 100,000 voters were registered by the three groups, but about a third of those registered never made the rolls. . . .