James JacobsOn September 19, James Jacobs, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights during a hearing on hate crime and domestic extremism. The hearing took place at the request of the Sikh Coalition and more than 150 other organizations who, after the August 5 attack on a Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, are advocating for Sikhs to be added to the federal government’s list of groups targeted by hate groups.

In his testimony, Jacobs, who is the author of Hate Crime: Criminal Law and Identity Politics (Oxford, 1998), argued against hate crime laws as a solution to violent crimes motivated by bias. “Hate crime laws are counterproductive. They politicize crime and spawn charges of hypocrisy and double standards. Those who are prosecuted call themselves victims of political correctness and martyrs to the First Amendment,” Jacobs said. “The hate crime laws conflict with their proponents' opposition to over-use of criminal law and especially to over-incarceration. Sending more people to prison for longer is hardly likely to contribute to a more tolerant society.”

Posted September 20, 2012