Use this space to discuss the question at the top of the attached article.
(File Attached Below)
Wisconsin v. Mitchell(1993).
On the October 7, 1989, a group of young black men and boys, including Mitchell, gathered at an apartment complex in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Several members of the group discussed a scene from the motion picture “Mississippi Burning,” in which a white man beat a young black boy who was praying. The group moved outside and Mitchell asked them: ” `Do you all feel hyped up to move on some white people?’ “. Shortly thereafter, a young white boy approached the group on the opposite side of the street where they were standing. As the boy walked by, Mitchell said: ” `You all want to fuck somebody up? There goes a white boy; go get him.’ Mitchell counted to three and pointed in the boy’s direction. The group ran towards the boy, beat him severely, and stole his tennis shoes. The boy was rendered unconscious and remained in a coma for four days.
Mitchell was convicted of aggravated battery. That offense ordinarily carries a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment, but because the jury found that Mitchell had intentionally selected his victim because of the boy’s race, the maximum sentence for Mitchell’s offense was increased to seven years. Wisconsin law enhances the maximum penalty for an offense whenever the defendant intentionally selects the person against whom the crime is committed because of the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry of that person.
Mitchell appealed his enhanced prison time, arguing that he has a constitutional right to express his view point on other races even when those views are bigoted. The enhanced penalty is based on his speech and thus unconstitutional. The state argued the enhanced penalty was for Mitchell’s conduct, not speech or views on other races. The Wisconsin Appeals court ruled in favor of the prosecution, however the Wisconsin Supreme Court found the enhancement was unconstitutional, and ordered the enhanced sentence be reversed. The State of Wisconsin appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
Module 13 Discussion
1. As a Justice on the United States Supreme Court would you affirm the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling or reverse and declare additional prison time for a hate based battery constitutional? Why or why not, explain your answer.
2. Do you think additional jail/prison time is justified for crimes based solely on the dislike of others? What do you believe society is declaring by such enhancements?