Hate Crimes Act

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Hate Crimes Act of 2009, which is also known as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, is an act of Congress which was passed on October 22, 2009. The Hate Crimes Act defines the term hate crime as well as the penalty for the commission of the criminal offense of hate crime. The Hate Crimes Act was challenged before the Courts as being against the rights guaranteed by the Constitution under the Thirteenth Amendment. However, in U.S. v. Hatch, the Tenth Circuit held that Section 2 of the Thirteenth Amendment authorized Congress to enact the racial violence provision of the Hate Crimes Act.

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]