This week Keegan Hamilton reported on Judge Justin Quackenbush's decision that alleged would-be Spokane bomber Kevin Harpham's anti-Semitic beliefs are not admissible by the court.
Given that Harpham is accused of a hate crime, one could argue that his apparent hatred for Jews is an important fact that a jury deserves to know.
One commenter strongly disagrees.
Kevin Riley O'Keeffe writes:
He either attempted to bomb the MLK Day parade, or he did not. His beliefs, opinions, and/or feelings about Jewish people are not germane to that question, and thus have no rational bearing on the outcome of his trial.
O'Keeffe makes a solid point, though it's not the same point Judge Quackenbush makes.
The sticking point for the judge in the case is that being Jewish is not the same as being black or being Asian or white. Judaism is a religion, not a race. And since prosecutors didn't file their hate-crime complaint based on "religion," Harpham's views on the topic are inadmissible.
Even without the judge's denial on technical grounds, however, O'Keeffe's idea that it shouldn't matter who Harpham hates, only whether or not he tried to bomb a parade, is astute.
From the look of the court filings, prosecutors have a mountain of evidence lined up against Harpham. Convincing a jury that he's guilty shouldn't require convincing them that he hates Jews.
And if it did, Harpham would have quite the basis for an appeal after he was convicted.