What: All Issues : Human Rights & Civil Liberties : Hate Crimes : A vote on passage of a bipartisan amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) that would broaden the categories covered by hate crimes to include crimes motivated by the victim's gender, sexual orientation or disability and allow such crimes to be prosecuted in federal courts
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A vote on passage of a bipartisan amendment to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) that would broaden the categories covered by hate crimes to include crimes motivated by the victim's gender, sexual orientation or disability and allow such crimes to be prosecuted in federal courts
senate Roll Call 114     Jun 15, 2004
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
Winning Side:
Progressive

Progressives prevailed with this amendment, offered by Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) to the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization Act (S. 2400) that would broaden the categories covered by hate crimes to include crimes motivated by the victim's gender, sexual orientation or disability and allow such crimes to be prosecuted in federal courts. The amendment would require the Justice Department to certify that bias was a motivating factor in the crime and that state or local law enforcement officials have been consulted and the state does not object to the federal government assuming jurisdiction. It also would authorize $5 million per year for fiscal 2005 and 2006 for the Justice Department to assist states and local authorities in investigating and prosecuting hate crimes. Smith reasoned that the Defense authorization bill was an appropriate vehicle for his hate crimes legislation, because "the military is not immune to the scourge of hate crimes in our country." Conservatives argued that the Smith-Kennedy proposal was unnecessary and would be tantamount to "criminalizing thought." Said Sen. Rick Santorum, "I know there are lots of motivations for people to do things and there are lots of bad thoughts out there in people's minds, but we do not criminalize those. We only criminalize them if there are actions taken. I think protecting the freedom of belief and the freedom to think the way one wants to think is an important concept in our country, somewhat unique in the American Constitution, and I believe this hate crimes amendment violates that very premise," Santorum said. Progressives prevailed 65-33 in a vote on the Smith-Kennedy proposal, meaning the amendment, as part of a defense bill - though likely to be stripped out in a conference committee with the House -- stands a chance of making it to the president's desk for signature or veto. A conference committee is a panel of members selected from the House and the Senate who are charged with negotiating a compromise bill based on their differing versions of the legislation. That final legislative product is then voted on by the House and Senate, and, if approved by both chambers, sent to the president's desk for a signature or veto.

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