Return with us to now those thrilling days of yesteryear . . . in 2004.

Opposition to hate crimes legislation was one of the sidelights of Pat Toomey's last Senate run, in the hard-fought GOP primary against Arlen Specter that year. Specter was a champion of such legislation (which expanded sentencing for violent crimes motivated by the victim's race, sexual orientation and so on), while conservatives were largely against it -- see a 2004 National Review piece here on Specter's support of "special treatment for homosexuals," and the American Conservative Union's description on a 2004 House motion on a similar bill.

Toomey, then in his last year in Congress, voted against the House motion, and in response to a reporter's questions today at his Downtown press conference reiterated that position.

"I think it’s a bad idea for the government to legislate what they think people are thinking -- what’s in person’s heart or mind when a crime’s being done. And they should be vigorously prosecuted. And I’ve long believed that, which is probably why I got the endorsement of the statewide FOP," Mr. Toomey said.

"I share their view that we shouldn’t have a system that’s designed to say, now, what was so-and-so thinking at the time he committed his crime, and let’s punish him more or less depending on what we think the thought process was. That’s ridiculous. People should be prosecuted for the crimes they commit.".

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