NASHVILLE, Tenn.,—Dr. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, commented today on the passage of the hate crimes bill in the House of Representatives.
“Today brought both good news and very bad news from our nation’s capital,” Land said.
“The bad news is the House of Representatives voted 237-180 to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (H.R. 1592), which could well lead to serious infringements of our First Amendment freedom of speech protections in the United States. Such legislation has had a very chilling effect on free speech in Canada, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe.
“In addition to being a speech issue, it is also a federalism issue, in that H.R. 1592 would constitute a giant leap in the federalization of criminal law in the United States, which prior to this time has been left as much as possible to each individual state to administer, prosecute and adjudicate.
“There is no question that all violent crimes should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, regardless of the motivation of the perpetrators who commit the crimes and regardless of the identity of the victims.
“The good news is that the executive office of the President has issued a ‘Statement of Administration Policy,’ which states that if H.R. 1592 ‘were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.’
“For the constitutional and federal reasons already stated, it is imperative that the President veto this bill if it arrives on his desk, having been passed by the Senate as well as the House.
“A presidential veto is a constitutional provision to provide a check and a balance to the legislative branch of government. If the Senate joins the House in overreaching on this matter, the President should indeed exercise his constitutional prerogative and veto this dangerous legislation. It is comforting to know that his senior advisors will recommend just such a course of action.”
p(notes). The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.3 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.