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Harriet Meirs to Supreme Court

Discussion in 'The OT' started by pjmrt, Oct 3, 2005.

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  1. Danny R

    Danny R Goblin the Pug DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Then you don't understand what "legislation" is.

    Perhaps not, but the ability of juries to add mitigating or aggravating factors is founded by legislation as well though. Juries can't give penalties that aren't approved by legislators. You can't sentense someone to more than the penalty prescribed by law. Hate crimes just prescribe harsher penalties for worse actions. Aggravating factors is the EXACT same thing.

    And should be. Hate shouldn't be against the law. ACTS should be, not feelings.

    No they shouldn't. While physically they are the same act, the repurcussions of both are vastly different. Hate crime takes into account the added repurcussions of the seemingly simple act. A jury looking at this as just an aggravated circumstance does the SAME THING.
     
  2. Capmeister

    Capmeister Large Hairless ApeCutting Edge: ECHELON '08

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    No, Hate crimes just prescribe harsher prnalties for worse FEELINGS, but no worse actions.

    Aggravating and mitigating factors are generally common law based inherent in the peer jury system and not legislated in. Unless it's a death penalty case, most judges instructions do not even mention those factors.

    You can come at it any way you like, but hate crimes by definition make it more of a crime to hate than to just act. That is morally wrong, and the state should not engage in ascribing "wrong" or "right" to feelings.
     
  3. Bogy

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    Should the person who murders 10 people receive a harsher penalty than the person who murders 1? Should the person who steals a million dollars receive a greater penalty than the person who steals 10 dollars? Should the person who spray paints a swastika on the front of a synagogue receive the same penalty as the kid who tags a bridge with "I love Cindy"?

    The person who kills ten people has impacted more lives than the person who only kills one. The person who paints the swastika on a synagogue also impacts more people than the kid who paints his declaration of love. Cindy might be impressed, he is still breaking the law by defacing property, and the penalty, if enforced will probably to clean up the mess. The swastika harms the spirits of everyone in the congregation, and beyond. It is meant as a threat. Cleaning up that mess is not as simple. You can't legislate feelings, but you can prohibit people from expressing those feelings through actions.
     
  4. djlong

    djlong Hall Of Fame

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    If someone kills me, what does it matter?

    Until I was 29, I had no clue that I was Hispanic.

    If I'm murdered because I'm Hispanic, does that make me any less dead? Does it make me more important that I was viewed as Hispanic? Or less when I 'thought' I was Caucasian?
     
  5. bobsupra

    bobsupra Work In Progress DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Bogy. I can't disagree with your concluding comment; but here's were I have difficulty. When the law on hate extends to spray can messages and includes them in a separate class of crime above simple defacing, then does picket signs and campaign posters opposing a candidate come next as being hateful and illegal? You most like will say that is not the same thing as swastikas painted on a building, but where is the line drawn between simple political opposition and hate? More importantly, the moment the idea that hate is illegal, the definition can change based upon the political views of the current legislature. Its easier to amend current law with a few well chosen words vs. establish new law. Its a slippery slope out there (and it's not even winter yet).
     
  6. Bogy

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    If the picket sign or campaign poster declares that the candidate should be gassed because he/she is a Jew, then I think it would be the same. Of if a sign or poster says a black candidate should by lynched. And if a picket sign says that a white candidate should be shot, that should be dealt with. The issue is, gassing and lynching have significant meaning as ways of intimidating and exterminating whole groups of people. Those expressions are often used to intimidate more than just an individual. If the statement is made that a white candidate should be shot, is that an indication of an attempt to intimidate all whites? Or an expression of hate for a particular person? The people who use expressions of hate toward Jews and Blacks generally hate them all. Around here there are many expressions of hate aimed toward Bill and Hillary Clinton. Including the desire to see them dead. Does this indicate a hatred of all whites? All people from Arkansas? All Democrats? Well, perhaps the last group, but being a Democrat is a choice, just as being a Republican is a choice, its not a protected class.

    Most whites don't seem to have a clue how pervasive racism remains in this country, and how much intimidation still takes place.
     
  7. Capmeister

    Capmeister Large Hairless ApeCutting Edge: ECHELON '08

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    Since I can't imagine anything more harsh than the dealth penalty which isn't unconstitutional already, no.
     
  8. Capmeister

    Capmeister Large Hairless ApeCutting Edge: ECHELON '08

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    Someone gets it.
     
  9. Bogy

    Bogy Hall Of Fame

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    What if the penalty is life, in a state where life means parole is possible after ten years? The person who has murdered ten people often would have ten "life" sentences, so he would not be eligible for parole until he had served 100 years.

    But nice sidestep of the point of the post Cap.
     
  10. bobsupra

    bobsupra Work In Progress DBSTalk Gold Club

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    If I understand you correctly, expressions of hate towards groups where membership of the group is involuntary (i.e. racial or cultural) should be illegal; however, expressions of hate towards individuals because of their voluntary association with groups is different and protected by Freedom of Speech. That distinction is arbitrary and revolves around class membership definitions.

    You are correct that racism must be eradicated, but it is very difficult to unlearn centuries of human history other than thru education and role models. As minorities and women gain their rightful place in societal leadership, racism will become history.
     
  11. RichW

    RichW Hall Of Fame/Supporter DBSTalk Gold Club

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    You can come at it any way you like, but hate crimes by definition make it more of a crime to hate than to just act. That is morally wrong, and the state should not engage in ascribing "wrong" or "right" to feelings.

    No it is not morally wrong, so we will just have to disagree... with current law on my side.
     
  12. Geronimo

    Geronimo Native American Potentate DBSTalk Gold Club

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    One has to wonder how we go from Ms Miers to hate crimes but such is the way things are here.

    I see Cap's argument here but I just can't draw a simple line that says that the act is already illegal and that there fore no additional punishment is required.

    One of the many problems with all this is that there is no simple definition of the term hate crime. IF it is defined as an attempt to send a message to some group (a race, a religion, a political party, the disabled whatever) that they are not welcome somewhere than I see a very clear difference between that crime and the same crime with other motivations.

    Are we prosecuting the feeling?


    No and the use of the word "feelings" is a curious word to use in this context. WHat a criminal was thinking or feeling is generally referred to as "motive" and motive is considered all the time in criminal cases. We are prosecuting the fact that the feeling was translated into actions and saying that such beatings, murders, or whatever are more heinous than those committed for other reasons. I think that the society has the right to punish that translation of hatred into action. We already make distinctions over motive in several areas. There are various "Degrees" of murder, they are separated by the degree to which the crime was deliberate and premeditated. Other charges require the legal system to measure intent in handing out punishment.

    The problem is in proving that motivation for the crime. That places an extra burden on the prosecution and is currently the only thing that allows for federal prosecutions of some crimes. But certainly if the prosecution is at the same level (e.g state) a jury can render a verdict of guilty for the "Lesser" non hate charge.
     
  13. Bogy

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    I'm going to try to get this thread back on track, or it may be time to start a new thread, because we are not close to the Senate having made a decision on the nomination yet. So here are a couple of issues that have come up since we once again got onto hate crimes.

    Item One: As I have continued to read about Ms Miers and to listen to comments from people who know her, her strong business law background is apparent. As was mentioned when Justice Roberts nomination was being considered, he was also strongly conservative, when it came to business matters. The question I have heard and seen raised is exactly what was Bush looking for in a SC nominee. The assumption by the ideologically conservative right wing was that he would pack the court with justices who were socially conservative. Bush has said a number of times that he does not have a litmus test he puts judicial candidates through, and it just might be that he is telling the truth, at least when it comes to subjects like abortion and gay rights. Mom and Dad Bush used to support a woman's right to choose, and it could be that this is really not that important to George W. either. What is important to him is the long term business climate in America. His real core of supporters are far more interested in business than they are in abortion.

    Item Two: Pat Robertson is in the news again for having said a dumb thing. The question is, did he say the dumb thing on his own, trying to sound like someone with an inside track, or does he have an inside track, and someone in the White House told Pat a dumb thing which he passed on? Robertson said on the air that he has been assured by the White House that Ms Miers is firmly against abortion. Since then he has backed off somewhat on his statement. Sunday Morning I heard Leahy and Specter stating their mutual concern over the possibility that some backroom deals have been cut to get Ms Miers confirmed. Specter stated that the Republicans and Democrats would be able to call an equal number of witnesses, and if the Democrats wanted to call Pat Robertson to testify it would be fine by him. He quickly went on to say that if the Democrats did not call Robertson to testify, he would. I noticed today while I was doing some research that a right wing site had a "scoop" that the Democrats planned on calling Robertson to testify. :lol:
     
  14. bobsupra

    bobsupra Work In Progress DBSTalk Gold Club

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    The assessment on business climate conservatism vs. social conservatism is interesting and the more I think about it the more it fits what's happening. Bush may be giving lip service to the right wing, but his actions seem to benefit the money interests (too many examples here to cite).

    As to Robertson as a witness...can a crazy person testify honestly?
     
  15. jonstad

    jonstad Hall Of Fame

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    "Other motivations" are why we consider mitigating circumstances!

    One of the problems is the latitude to sentence appropriately for mitigating circumstances are sentencing guidelines imposed on judges. Remove them, and then instruct judges that crimes of hate are one of the circumstances that is the LEAST mitigating! And also impress on them that NOT considering "hate" as a heinous, inexcusable motive is grounds for charges of judicial misconduct.

    Hate crime legislation essentially creates a dual justice system with separate charges and punishments for physically identical crimes. We should be trying to simplify the justice system, not make it more confusing and complicated. And certainly not create an entire new set of statutes devoted exclusively to "hate crimes". Deciding what punishment is appropriate, within certain parameters, is the reason we have judges, and why we call them judges.
     
  16. jonstad

    jonstad Hall Of Fame

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    You may be on the right track here. It's very possible Bush interviewed others for the post and to his chagrin the discussion enevitably turned to the minutia of Constitutional law. Without casting any aspersions, probably not George's strong suit, nor a subject he is interested in or passionate about. However, probably one that the interviewee probably thought was important for job qualification.

    Because he HAS known Miers for such a long time on an intimate business and personal level, he "knows her heart". It is not surprising then that if none of the others particularly impressed him, he might just turn to Harriett.

    As for Robertson, early on, Dobson made about the same claim of getting "inside information" and backed off too. It would not be surprising to see Robertson AND Dobson supeonaed to testify what exact assurances they received behind closed doors.
     
  17. Lyle_JP

    Lyle_JP Icon

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    Bloody hell! Is it possible that I agree 100% with jonstad, and have no qualm whatsoever with this post, in fact heartly agree with it! :eek2:

    I'm going to need some recovery time here. :p
     
  18. Geronimo

    Geronimo Native American Potentate DBSTalk Gold Club

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    Except that as I pointed out we have always looked at otherwise identical crimes differently because of the motives of the criminal. The example cited above was murder. It is not by any means new to have several different ways to prosecute based on different motives. To be sure this asss yet another charge but there was already more than one.
     
  19. jonstad

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    Yes Chief, again, this is what we call mitigating circumstances and if we would simply give this power back to judges, THEY could decide which assault was a bar fight between drunks and which a homophobic gang beating. For the one you let them sleep it off in the drunk tank and assign them to AA, for the other you toss 'em in with some hard core lifers and Bubba for a cellmate for a few years so they understand what homophobia is really all about!

    But the tendancy has been to take the sentencing perogative away from judges. If you don't trust judges to make these decisions, then the only alternative is to tediously go through and set minimum sentences for each individual crime based on motive.
     
  20. jonstad

    jonstad Hall Of Fame

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    Yeah, that is pretty scary. I might have to rethink my position.;)
     
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