Yesterday, Judge Thomas Ludington of the U.S. Federal Court for the District of Eastern Michigan dismissed the case of three plaintiffs seeking to strike the criminal provisions of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
The court challenge by three anti-LGBT clergy from Michigan made the ridiculous claim that the hate crimes statute creates “a special class of persons who are ‘more equal than others’ based on nothing more than deviant, sexual behavior.” They claimed that this law – so important in protecting the rights of LGBT persons across the country – violated their First Amendment rights, their guarantee of Equal Protection, the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause. Their arguments mirrored the ones made urging Congress to defeat the legislation last year.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder sought the dismissal, claiming that the law does not violate the Constitution and further, that the plaintiffs do not have the right to bring such a suit regarding a theoretical harm, since none have yet been prosecuted under the act, nor is there any evidence they ever will be. The Judge agreed, dismissing the case on all counts.
Thanks to HRC Law Fellow Adam Thomas for his contributions to this post.