A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a challenge to the constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention law, granting Attorney General Eric Holder’s motion to dismiss the challenge to the law that protects gay, bisexual and transgender individuals from bias-motivated violence because the plaintiffs lacked jurisdiction.
Judge Thomas L. Ludington of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled Tuesday that the claim by Michigan Christians that they would be prosecuted under the hate crimes law was entirely speculative, as they would have had to be at risk of committing violent acts or would have had to admit to committing such acts in the past to be at risk of prosecution.“Plaintiffs’ fear of prosecution is speculative; they do not allege that they have violated the Hate Crimes Act in the past, nor that they intend to violate it in the future,” wrote Ludington, who was nominated by President George W. Bush.
The lawsuit, filed in February by the conservative Thomas More Law Center, cited Bible passages, George Orwell’s Animal Farm and made references to the “homosexual agenda.” The plaintiffs had argued that the law violates their constitutional right to speak out against what they say is immoral sexual conduct.
Ludington dismissed an argument made by the plaintiffs that they might unintentionally cause headaches and stomachaches because of their preaching, which could be interpreted as “bodily injury.” Even if that definition was accepted, Ludington said the plaintiffs didn’t say they intentioned to cause such ailments.
“Most importantly, Plaintiffs do not allege that they intend to ‘willfully cause’ any ‘bodily injury’,” wrote the judge.
Lawyers for the religious leaders had previously said that if they didn’t prevail, they planned to appeal the decision all the way to the Supreme Court.
The judge’s ruling is embedded below.