The Nevada Legislature has passed a bill making it a “hate crime” — subject to enhanced punishment of up to 20 years in prison — to commit a crime motivated by a victim’s “gender identity or expression,” commonly referred to in the vernacular as transgender. It passed the Senate with only a single nay vote and the Assembly with only 11 nays. Gov. Brian Sandoval promptly signed it into law.
It adds to current “hate crime” laws, which already allow enhanced penalties for crimes committed because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation and physical or mental disability.
This is clearly disparate treatment under the law, and defies the 14th Amendment, which says no state may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws,” as I point out in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times and the Elko Daily Free Press.
When a crime has been committed, what difference does it make whether the victim is a member of some favored group? Is a crime against a person excluded from these groups somehow less heinous, less important, less deserving of punishment?
Meanwhile, back in Washington, the singling out of special groups for special enforcement continued.
The House of Representatives passed the “Stolen Valor Act of 2013” by 390-3. The bill’s chief sponsor was Nevada’s Republican Rep. Joe Heck, but it had 127 co-sponsors. Democrats Dina Titus and Steven Horsford voted for the bill. Republican Mark Amodei did not vote.
It was approved in the Senate by unanimous consent.
The bill makes it a federal crime to lie about receiving a military decoration or medal in order to profit or benefit financially, such as government benefits, a job reserved for a veteran or a contract. Violators could be fined and/or imprisoned.
The Supreme Court this past year struck down the original “Stolen Valor Act” — which made it a crime for a person merely to claim to have won military honors he did not — as an unconstitutional restraint of free speech.
This original “Stolen Valor Act” was then changed to criminalize obtaining financial gain via such false claims, enhancing the penalty for what is already a crime.
Depictions of Lady Justice, since the 15th century, have shown her blindfolded, so she may objectively mete out justice without regard to station in life, group identity, wealth, poverty, power, weakness or prior victimization.