Victory: Pennsylvania “hate crimes” law struck down by Penn. Supreme Court

Victory: Pennsylvania “hate crimes” law struck down by Penn. Supreme Court

Published by Ben DuPré July 24th, 2008 in Law, Politics

In a significant victory for freedom of thought and the rule of law, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled yesterday in favor of Michael Marcavage and other Christian evangelists with Repent America, affirming in Marcavage v. Rendell that the state legislature violated the Pennsylvania Constitution when it added “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to Pennsylvania’s “ethnic intimidation” law (18 Pa. C.S. § 2710), the state’s version of so-called “hate crimes.”
The Foundation for Moral Law, along with attorney Aaron D. Martin, represented Christian evangelists Michael Marcavage, Mark Diener, Randall and Linda Beckman, Susan Startzell, Arlene Elshinnawy, and Nancy Major (below), who in 2004 were arrested and charged under the “ethnic intimidation” law for evangelizing at a Philadelphia homosexual parade.  

Several of the “Philly 11” pictured here challenged the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s “ethnic intimidation” law

Several of the “Philadelphia 11″ sued and the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania agreed that the law was unconstitutional and struck it down.  On appeal the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in a short per curiam order, agreed with the Commonwealth Court’s opinion and the Christian evangelists’ appellate brief filed by the Foundation.

 Judge Roy Moore remarked on this historic case:

“We are very happy that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled in our favor to stop the Governor and a group of corrupt politicians from sneaking a ‘hate crimes’ bill through the Pennsylvania legislature.  Preaching to homosexuals about the sin of sodomy should not be made a ‘thought crime’ in Pennsylvania or any other state.”

In the appellate brief filed March 17, 2008, the Foundation and attorney Martin argued to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that the legislature’s altering of an “agricultural crop destruction” bill into an amendment to the “ethnic intimidation” law—making crimes motivated by “sexual orientation,” “gender identity” and other classes subject to greater punishment (Act No. 2002-143, HB 1493)—violated, among other provisions, Article III, Section 1 of the Pennsylvania Constitution:

“No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended, on its passage through either House, as to change its original purpose.” 

The Commonwealth Court agreed that the “ethnic intimidation” amendment violated Section 1 and now so has the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America, also said:

“Having been arrested, jailed and charged with a ‘hate crime’ for preaching the Gospel, I am elated that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s ruling in striking down Pennsylvania’s expanded ‘hate crimes’ law.  The methods used by the Pennsylvania legislature in passing the ‘hate crimes’ bill were extremely devious and yet another chilling example as to how far politicians are willing to go to silence Christian speech that they would violate our own state Constitution to do it.  In a nation that is becoming increasingly hostile toward Biblical Christianity, we remain vigilant as the Pennsylvania legislature will most likely attempt to pass another ‘hate crimes’ bill and are continuing to educate the American people on the significant dangers of such laws.”

Since this was a successful suit challenging the underhanded legislative procedure used to pass the “ethnic intimidation” amendment, Mr. Marcavage is right to call on Pennsylvanians to remain vigilant so that the Pennsylvania legislature does not turn right around and pass such a heinous bill again.

Mr. Marcavage, as you may recall, is still battling in the Massachusetts courts after he was found guilty of “disorderly conduct” for preaching with a megaphone in Salem, Mass., on Halloween night.  The Foundation hopes to obtain the same success for Mr. Marcavage in Massachusetts as was gained in Pennsylvania since private beliefs and public preaching of the gospel—whether to homosexuals in Philadelphia or to Halloween revelers in “Witch City”—should never be made a crime.

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~ by mlmcbride33 on August 25, 2008.

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