PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3132, CHILDREN'S SAFETY ACT OF 2005 -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 15, 2005)
HON. RON PAUL
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2005
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Chairman, as an OB-GYN who has had the privilege of bringing over 3,000 children into the world, I share the desire to punish severely those who sexually abuse children. In fact, it is hard to imagine someone more deserving of life in prison than one who preys on children. This is why I have supported legislation that increases penalties for sexual assaults on children occurring on Federal land.
However, Mr. Chairman, I cannot support this bill because it infringes on the States' constitutional authority over the prevention and punishment of sex crimes. The late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and former United States Attorney General Ed Meese, two men who no one has ever accused of being ``soft on crime,'' have both warned that, although creating more Federal crimes may make politicians feel good, it is neither constitutionally sound nor prudent. Rehnquist has stated that, ``[t]he trend to federalize crimes that traditionally have been handled in state courts ..... threatens to change entirely the nature of our federal system.'' Meese stated that Congress's tendency in recent decades to make Federal crimes out of offenses that have historically been State matters has dangerous implications both for the fair administration of justice and for the principle that States are something more than mere administrative districts of a nation governed mainly from Washington.
H.R. 3132 not only creates new Federal programs and crimes, it instructs the States to change their laws to conform with Federal dictates. This violates the Constitution, and can weaken law enforcement. For example, one of the provisions of the new law requires States include those convicted of misdemeanors in their sex offender registries. By definition, misdemeanors are nonserious crimes, yet under this legislation State officials must waste valuable resources tracking non-serious sex offenders--resources that should be going to tracking those who are more likely to represent a real threat to children.
Thus, once again we see how increasing the role of the Federal Government in fighting these crimes--even when it is well intended--only hamstrings local and State law enforcement officers and courts and prevents them from effectively dealing with such criminals as the locals would have them dealt with--harshly and finally.
Mr. Chairman, Congress could both honor the Constitution and help States and local governments protect children by using our power to limit Federal jurisdiction to stop Federal judges from preventing States and local governments from keeping these criminals off the streets. My colleagues should remember that it was a Federal judge in a Federal court who ruled that the death penalty is inappropriate for sex offenders. Instead of endorsing a bill to let people know when a convicted child molester or rapist is in their neighborhood after being released, perhaps we should respect the authority of State courts and legislators to give child molesters and rapists the life or even death sentences, depending on the will of the people of those States.
Just as the Founders never intended the Congress to create a national police force, they never intended the Federal courts to dictate criminal procedures to the States. The Founding Fathers knew quite well that it would be impossible for a central government to successfully manage crime prevention programs for as large and diverse a country as America. That is one reason why they reserved to the States the exclusive authority and jurisdiction to deal with crime. Our children would likely be safe today if the police powers and budgets were under the direct and total control of the States as called for in the Constitution.
Finally Mr. Chairman, this legislation poses a threat to constitutional liberty by taking another step toward creating even more Federal ``hate crimes'' laws. So called ``hate crimes'' add an extra level of punishment for the thoughts motivating a crime--as if murder or robbery motivated by ``hate'' is somehow more offensive than murder or robbery motivated by greed or jealously. Laws criminalizing thought, instead of simply criminalizing acts of aggression against persons and property, have no place in a free society.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, since H.R. 3132 further burdens State and local law enforcement with unconstitutional Federal mandates that may make it tougher to monitor true threats to children, I encourage my colleagues to reject this bill. Instead, I hope my colleagues will work to end Federal interference in State laws that prevent States from effectively protecting children from sexual predators.