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Thu, 06.28.2018

The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act is Passed

*On this date in 2018, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act was passed.  This was a proposed bill to classify lynching (defined as bodily injury on the basis of perceived race, color, religion, or nationality) as a federal hate crime in the United States.

The largely symbolic bill aimed to recognize and apologize for historical governmental failures to prevent lynching in the US.  The act was introduced in the US Senate by the body's three Black members: Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Tim Scott. The legislation passed the Senate unanimously on December 19, 2018. The bill died because it was not passed by the House before the 115th Congress ended on January 3, 2019. On February 26, 2020, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, a revised version of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, passed the House of Representatives, by a vote of 410–4. 

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky held the bill from a passage by unanimous consent in the Senate, out of concern that a convicted criminal could face "a new 10-year penalty for... minor bruising." Paul a white-American requested expedited passage of an amended version of the bill which would require "an attempt to do bodily harm" for an act to be considered lynching, noting that lynching is already illegal under Federal Law. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer criticized senator Paul's position, saying on Twitter that "it is shameful that one GOP Senator is standing in the way of seeing this bill become law." Senator Kamala Harris added that "Senator Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed — there's no reason for this" while speaking to have the amendment defeated.  

Reference:

Congress.gov

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