Eric Holder, Obama's choice for attorney general, is hostile to civil liberties. He has previously expressed veiled support for using the misnamed "Fairness Doctrine" to squelch "conservative critiques" and "conservative media," such as Fox News (which Holder believes is anything but "Fair and Balanced," contrary to its slogan). The "Fairness Doctrine" is designed to shut down conservative Talk Radio.
Holder also has advocated hate-crimes legislation to prosecute people whom state prosecutors refuse to prosecute because of a lack of evidence. To justify broadening federal hate-crimes law, he cited three examples where state prosecutors refused to prosecute, citing a lack of evidence. In each, a federal jury acquitted the accused, finding them not guilty.
Advocates of a broad federal hate-crimes law have pointed to the Duke Lacrosse case as an example of where federal prosecutors should have stepped in and prosecuted the accused players -- even though the state prosecution in that case was dropped because the defendants were actually innocent, as North Carolina's attorney general conceded, and were falsely accused of rape by a woman with a history of violence (including trying to run over someone with her car) and making false accusations. Supporters of federal hate-crimes legislation like Janet Reno view it as a way of getting around constitutional protections against double jeopardy, by allowing reprosecution in federal court of people who have already been found innocent in state court.
Civil libertarians like Wendy Kaminer have criticized the federal hate-crimes bill for taking advantage of a loophole in constitutional double-jeopardy protections. So has Gail Heriot, a law professor and member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Holder has also been criticized by civil libertarians for seeking to undermine the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and by gun-rights advocates for seeking to eviscerate Second Amendment rights recognized by the Supreme Court.
Holder was also involved in the disgraceful pardon of fugitive millionaire Marc Rich,, whose ex-wife was a major Clinton donor, and the pardons of unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorists.
I wrote earlier about how the federal hate-crimes bill backed by Obama and Congressional leaders would violate constitutional federalism safeguards, and how it would allow people found innocent in state court to be retried in federal court. Supporters of the hate-crimes bill have all sorts of rationalizations for disregarding not-guilty verdicts. Hate-crimes activist Brian Levin, who testified before Congress, claims reprosecutions are needed because local jury pools are biased. NOW Legal Defense Fund told Congress that reprosecutions are appropriate if local prosecutors had “inadequate resources” or were of “questionable effectiveness.”
Given the politically-charged nature of many hate-crimes trials, Kimberly Potter of New York University was probably right when she told Congress back in 1998 that if the federal hate crimes bill is enacted, “the acquittal of [hate-crimes] defendants in state court will frequently trigger demands for federal prosecution.”
The defendants in the Duke lacrosse case, charged with an interracial rape, were vindicated by DNA evidence. But their detractors, such as former John Edwards staffer Amanda Marcotte (who has repeatedly smeared critics of the federal hate crimes bill as being bigots) and radical activist Alton Maddox (who was involved in the Tawana Brawley hate-crime hoax), continue to insist that they were guilty of hate crimes, and that more hate-crimes laws are needed.
For some people, it seems, hate crimes are so terrible that not even innocence should be a defense. Such people eagerly await passage of the federal hate-crimes bill.