The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, November 30, 1999 - 7
ustices to rule on state law regarding hate crimes
Tic Baltimore Sun
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court,
gien a chance to shape the nation's laws against
hate- crimes, agreed yesterday to define state
power to impose added punishment for a crimi-
nal who is motivated by racial or religious bias.
Six years after its last ruling on the issue, the
ourt said it would decide the constitutionality
New Jersey law that gives a judge broad dis-
cretion to tack on heavier sentences when a
crime results from prejudice.
The coming decision does not appear likely to
deny states the power to pass hate crime laws,
said Steven Freeman, legal director of the Anti-
Defamation League, a leading proponent of
such laws. Rather, the justices will be sorting out
how difficult it will be to increase the penalties
when a crime results from bias against a minor-
ity individual or group.
In 1993, the court ruled in a Wisconsin case
that states may increase penalties for bias-moti-
vated offenses, saying such laws target primarily
actions and not thoughts or beliefs. The
Constitution generally bars punishment for one's
thoughts. But the 1993 decision left unanswered
the procedures that courts would have to follow
under those laws.
New Jersey was one of the first states to adopt
a hate crimes law, patterning its 1981 measure
after a proposal by the Anti-Defamation League.
Now, 39 other states have enacted laws similar to
the league's model.
In basic outline, those laws do not create a
separate offense of "hate crime" Rather, they
add to the length of sentences for crimes that are
found to have been motivated by racial, reli-
gious, ethnic or other discrimination.
New Jersey's law is somewhat unusual. The
judge, not the jury, decides whether the crime
was motivated by bias. In addition, the judge can
draw that conclusion based on the lowest stan-
dard of proof: that the evidence of bias simply
outweighs the evidence to the contrary.
In most other states, prosecutors must prove
beyond a reasonable doubt that the criminal was
motivated by discrimination.
The New Jersey Supreme Court, upholding
that state's law in June, said the Constitution
does not require the tougher standard of proof or
that the task be given to a jury. The extra pun-
ishment is not a specific part of the crime, but
only a sentencing factor, the state court ruled.
The law's constitutionality was challenged in an
appeal to the justices by Charles Apprendi, a phar-
macist in VinelandN.J., who asked the court to over-
turn his 12-year prison sentence under the state law.
Apprendi had been given a heavier pun-
ishment for the crime of possessing a gun
with an unlawful purpose. Prosecutors
accused him of firing shots into the home
of a black family living near him. Apprendi,
who is white, told the police who arrested
him that he committed the shooting to "give
them a message" that they were not wel-
come in the neighborhood.
Stalled budget ends in consensus
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HEALTHY SUBJECTS, ages 18 - 50+. are
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Continued from Page 1
And lawmakers agreed on S1.3 bil-
lion to hire new teachers. Republicans,
.pushing local control, signed on to the
. Democratic measure only after it was
amended to allow a quarter of the
money to go toward training teachers.
In legislation adopted earlier in the
year, Republicans won a huge increase
in defense spending, including a sub-
stantial pay raise for military personnel,
and boosted government funding for
Even as the booming economy allows
the parties to rain cash on their favorite
programs, a mentality of fiscal responsi-
bility pervaded the budget negotiations.
"There was certainly more discipline
than last year," said Don Wolfensberger,
a scholar of Congress at the nonpartisan
Woodrow Wilson Center in
Washington. "The temptation to spend
is there, and still there was a little more
restraint this time around, which is pret-
To fund the $7 billion in new spend-
ing, Congress approved, among other
things, a plan - pushed by conserva-
tive advocates of fiscal discipline in
Congress - to cut spending across the
board, instead of dipping into the tril-
lion-dollar federal surplus.
Republicans had initially proposed a
1.3 percent cut, but that plan fizzled.
Lawmakers later agreed on 0.38 percent
across the board, excluding military per-
sonnel, with savings of $1.3 billion for
next year. The deal gives the president
flexibility in distributing the cuts.
Policymakers on both sides sang
their own praises for increasing spend-
ing without depleting the surplus,
which would have drained funds from
the Social Security program and
delayed payments on the national debt.
But Wittman said conservatives had
abandoned their commitment to slow-
ing the growth of the federal treasury.
"The economy is growing much
quicker than the government,' he said,
tempting both parties to spend on new
government programs. "The dilemma
for conservatives is, How do you
restrain spending in an era of surplus?"
As the budget battles drew to a close,
everyone seemed to agree that the
vibrant economy had altered the politi-
cal landscape, allowing the parties to
compromise and each pursue targeted
But compromise was more than a
convenient possibility at the session's
end. After months of bitter, partisan
warfare on Capitol Hill, beginning with
impeachment, compromise had become
a political necessity, as the public grew
wary of what it perceived to be a divi-
sive, impotent Congress.
With the exception of a bipartisan
bill to repeal restrictive Depression-era
banking laws, the 106th Congress -
popularly dubbed "the do-nothing
Congress" - bickered on issue after
issue, stalling legislation indefinitely or
killing it altogether.
"I think the well has been poisoned,"
Frenzel said. "The Congress and the
president used to work more amicably,"
he recalled, looking back on his years in
Earlier in the year, after a spate of
school shootings across the country,
both chambers took up gun control.
With partisanship in high gear, law-
makers offered only modest proposals
and adopted incremental reforms. The
legislation never cleared the confer-
ence between House members and
Senators to synthesize the two ver-
On health care reform, with divisive
rhetoric and mud-slinging on display,.
the House and Senate made headway in
the effort to protect the rights of
patients using managed care providers.
But once again, two different versions
of the legislation died in conference.
A Republican plan for a S792 billion
tax cut shared a similar fate. The House
and Senate never resolved differences
between their two plans and GOP lead-
ers were unable to rally support to over-
ride a presidential veto.
In a break with tradition, the Senate
took up campaign finance reform and
prepared for thorough debate and a sim-
ple up-or-down vote. But all hopes of
passage were shattered by a threatened
filibuster, which stalled debate and
doomed the legislation.
And in a stinging defeat for Clinton,
the Senate last month voted down the
Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, which
would have outlawed nuclear testing by
signatories. The bill died strictly along
party lines, even as a majority of
Senators sought to delay a vote.
An array of polling data shows the
American public frustrated by the
Congress's inefficacy. As the election
season unfolds, with each party des-
perately seeking a majority in both
chambers in 2001, leaders recognize
that their public images needed hon-
"They want to show that they worked
out their differences," Wolfensberger
said. "Everybody wants to say they
brought home the bacon.
At yesterday's ceremony, Clinton
challenged Congress to overcome
internal divisions for the American
"In the weeks and months ahead," he
said, "we can achieve these vital goals if
we keep in mind that the disagreements
we have are far less important than our
shared values and our shared responsi-
bility for the future."
And so the session that began with a
vigorous debate over "high crimes and
misdemeanors" and "our sacred honor"
ended rather quietly yesterday, with the
customary hand-shaking and back-
slapping that follows a worthy accom-
plishment in Washington.
- The Associated Press contributed to
6 MO. YR. OLD BOY needs babysitter.
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BABYSITTER NEEDED afternoons,
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BABYSITTING NEEDED for a 6-month
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afternoons 3-4 times a week /bf Witer term.
Very pleasant job: On campus, time tof
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RELIABLE CAREGIVER NEEDED.
Beginning Jan. 3rd, 2 children, 3 days/week.
own car, references. Call 747-7513.
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WHEN AND WHERE.
Cardmembers get a compli-
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a preview screening of
Universal Pictures' new film
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released December 22th.
Just bring your American
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Receive a complimentary
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