That was fast: it looks as if the first charge under Louisiana’s new “Blue Lives Matter” law was made to hang a felony rap on a man who shouted slurs at police as they escorted him to the station. Hours later, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department acknowledged that a sergeant at the scene had applied the hate crime law incorrectly and that the charge would be reviewed before proceeding with prosecution. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, and followup; Scott Shackford, Reason (“The release bond for Delatoba’s ‘hate crime’ charge of yelling bad words ($10,000) is actually higher than the amount for the vandalism ($5,000) that drew the police in the first place”); earlier and more]
Under a bill that passed the state legislature with little opposition and now heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Louisiana “is poised to become the first [state] in the nation where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law.” That will bring us much closer to the end of all principled conservative opposition to hate-crime laws, so thanks for nothing, Louisiana. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, Washington Post] My case against the idea, which has been pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police union, is here.
Last year I sharply criticized the idea of adding attacks on police to the list of offenses deemed hate crimes, an idea being floated in Minnesota and elsewhere. Now the idea is going national: “Recently, Representative Ken Buck [R-Colo.] introduced the Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016, which would amend the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 to make any attack on a police officer a federal hate crime.” In addition to all the earlier reasons why it’s a terrible idea, this adds problems of federal overreach, including federal criminal law intrusion into categories of offense previously handled at the state level [Alison Somin, Federalist Society blog; Ilya Somin]
- Case of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz, suspended 5 times before faking his suicide as death in the line of duty, also illustrates how hard it is to fire a public employee [Scott Reeder/Chicago Sun-Times, reprint at Reboot Illinois]
- More on campaign to extend hate crime laws to cover assaults on police [Tim Cushing/TechDirt, earlier here]
- If cops in bad shootings can’t be prosecuted, is it too much to ask at least that they be fired? [Jonathan Blanks, Washington Post] Or at least that we get to find out their names? “Bill shielding identities of police who use force passes Pennsylvania House” [Watchdog]
- Speaking of privacy: “Three Minneapolis officers sue after their names are revealed in prostitution sting” [Star Tribune]
- Also, how Law Enforcement Officer Bill of Rights (LEOBR) laws fit in: “How bloated pensions contribute to police brutality” [Radley Balko]
- “Reducing the Power of Paramilitary Unions is a Civil Rights Issue” [John McGinnis, Law and Liberty; related, Campaign Zero, Coyote, Michael Wear/USA Today]
- Albuquerque cop, fired after having his lapel cam turned off during a shooting, wins reinstatement to force [David Kravets, ArsTechnica via Matthew Feeney, Cato]
The town of Red Wing, Minnesota, has passed a resolution urging that assaults on police be made a hate crime, a position urged for some years by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) union. How bad an idea is this? A very bad one indeed, I argue in an op-ed for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Critics argue that [existing hate-crime] laws in effect play favorites, departing from the spirit of equal protection under law that aims at treating all victims of personal assault as equally important.
Because they seem to put an official public seal on a narrative of oppression, such laws are also lobbied for in me-too fashion by other groups that rightly or wrongly see themselves as oppressed….
Not only are lethal assaults on police declining, I note, but the vast majority of them do not arise from any supposed prejudice or animus against cops, nor do such crimes go neglected and unprosecuted. Besides, most states already allow sentence enhancements on other grounds for crimes against police:
…what would [such a change in law] symbolize? The merely absurd proposition that police in the U.S. today are an oppressed minority group? Or the downright dangerous proposition that the law should step in to chastise and rectify the attitudes of a public that may not be as supportive of police wishes and demands as cop advocates would like?
Read the whole thing. Incidentally, the town council voted last week to let its Human Rights Commission review the resolution, a possible step toward reconsidering it. Some earlier Cato commentary on hate-crime laws here, here, here, and here. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).
More links: Star-Tribune original coverage (noting that Red Wing’s police chief approached the council requesting the resolution as a “show of support,” and that Minnesota already provides for sentence enhancements when police are the target of crimes, as indeed do most states); FBI on definition of hate crime; Fraternal Order of Police side of the case; Washington Post; U.S. News; New York Daily News.
Victimization as competitive sport: The Fraternal Order of Police, a national union claiming a membership of more than 300,000, “is asking for the Congressional hate crimes statute to be expanded to include crimes against police officers.” [Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News] Commentary: Jazz Shaw, Hot Air; Radley Balko (“Most states already allow or mandate sentence enhancements for crimes committed against police.”).
- Court agrees to hear case that could be vehicle for reconsidering “fraud on the market” theory embraced in Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 1988, which would spell huge news for securities class actions [Daniel Fisher, Class Defense Blog, Halliburton v. Erica P. John Fund at SCOTUSBlog; noteworthy amicus brief (PDF) from former SEC commissioners and officials and law professors]
- Elane Photography files certiorari petition [PDF] seeking review of ruling compelling owner to shoot same-sex partnership celebration [Adam Liptak, NYT, citing Cato brief in New Mexico case below, more on which here]
- Court hears oral argument on Hood v. AU Optronics: is state attorney general’s parens patriae antitrust suit removable to federal court under CAFA? [Ronald Mann/SCOTUSBlog, Class Defense Blog]
- “Party autonomy reigns supreme: arbitration and class actions in the Supreme Court’s 2012 term” [Mark Morril, WLF]
- More views on Bond v. U.S., the treaty case [Nick Dranias, Oona Hathaway, Spiro et al/Opinio Juris, Will Baude, earlier]
- Housing disparate impact: “St. Paul landlords’ suit may move forward, after New Jersey case settled” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press, Josh Blackman and more, earlier]
- Hee hee: SCOTUSBlog is for sale, and Kyle Graham is handicapping the possible purchasers [Non Curat Lex]
- There’s no constitutional authority for federal hate crime law [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
In my new CNN.com piece I argue that we shouldn’t let anger over the Zimmerman acquittal shred the rights of criminal defendants: “awarding new powers to prosecutors will likely mean that more black people will end up behind bars.” [CNN](& Steele; thanks for Instalanche to Glenn Reynolds)
P.S. Some may wonder whether a toughening of hate crime laws might be an exception to the general rule that minorities have much to fear from a broadening of grounds for prosecution. Leaving aside whether the hate crime issue has any relation to the Martin/Zimmerman case (few lawyers believe Zimmerman could be found guilty of a hate crime, and when the FBI investigated him last summer it found no evidence of racial motivation; more on this from Michelle Meyer), per FBI statistics for 2011, blacks are actually overrepresented among persons charged with hate crimes, at 21 percent compared with 14 percent of general U.S. population.
- Police in city of Manchester, U.K. say they’ll record attacks on punks, Goths as hate crimes [AP]
- If claiming severe permanent injuries from auto mishap, best not to place well in a marathon six months later [West Virginia Record]
- “Altering or deleting a Facebook account during litigation may be … spoliation of evidence” [Paul Kostro, Brian Wassom, Jim Dedman]
- Note to Trademark Office: “breastaurant” is not trademarkable [David Post; earlier here, here, and here]
- Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley, a Litigation Lobby stalwart, seeks Senate seat of retiring Harkin [DMR, earlier]
- Meta? Lawyer files suit over a suit [the Brooks Brothers kind] [Staci Zaretsky, Above the Law]
- Judge Shadur: “the most egregious fraud on the court … encountered in [my] nearly 33 years on the bench.” [Courthouse News]
- Do you enjoy reading Overlawyered? Check back later today, after 9 a.m. Eastern, for a major announcement about the site!
P.S. James Jacobs and Tish Durkin were among contributors to a recent roundtable on hate crime laws at the NYT’s “Room for Debate”.