The Campaign Spot

A Good Question For Eric Holder

Back in 1998, when testifying before Congress about the need for a federal hate crimes law, then Deputy-Attorney General Eric Holder was asked for “specific instances where the states have failed to” prosecute hate crimes. Holder could not cite a single case, and admitted that it was “fairly rare where we have hate crimes where local prosecutors, for inappropriate reasons, decide not to pursue them. I think we see more instances where there is an inability to prosecute an effective way these kinds of cases.” After a 1998 hearing, Holder filed a written response to similar questions to Sen. Arlen Specter, listing three cases where state authorities failed to bring charges. However, under all three federal prosecutions, the defendants were acquitted.

Perhaps some Republican senator would like to explore this at Holder’s confirmation hearing. And perhaps it will be a warning to senators to check his answers against the facts.

This was noted in “The Danger of Federalizing Hate Crimes: Congressional Misconceptions and the Unintended Consequences of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act,” by Christopher Chorba,

Virginia Law Review, Vol. 87, No. 2, p. 345.

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