Lights, Camera, Legislation: Congress Set to Adopt Hate Crimes Bill that May Put Double Jeopardy Protections in Jeopardy

By Gail Heriot
February 16, 2009
Americans were horrified by the brutal murders of James Byrd in Jasper, Texas and Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming a decade ago. “There ought to be a law…,” some people said, preferably a federal one. Of course, even then, there was a law. Murder is a serious crime everywhere regardless of its motive and it has been as far back as the advent of our civilization. Indeed, all but a few states have additional, special hate crimes statutes. No one is claiming that state authorities have been neglecting their duty to enforce the law. Matthew Shepard’s tormentors are now serving life sentences; James Byrd’s are on death row awaiting execution....