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PENNSYLVANIA: Supreme Court Rules 'Hate Crimes' Law Violates PA Constitution

PENNSYLVANIA: Supreme Court Rules that Homosexual 'Hate Crimes' Law Used Against Christian Evangelists Violates Pennsylvania Constitution

WASHINGTON, July 24 /Christian Newswire/ -- Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and attorneys with the Foundation for Moral Law applauded the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for its ruling yesterday in Marcavage v. Rendell affirming 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) in 2002.

The Foundation, along with attorney Aaron D. Martin, represented Christian evangelists Michael Marcavage, Mark Diener, Randall and Linda Beckman, Susan Startzell, Arlene Elshinnawy, and Nancy Major, who in 2004 were arrested and charged under the "ethnic intimidation" law for evangelizing at a Philadelphia homosexual parade. The Christian evangelists 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 and a petitioner in the case, 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."

The Foundation for Moral Law is a non-profit, religious liberties organization located in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to restoring the knowledge of God in law and government through litigation and education relating to moral issues and religious liberty.

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