By Charlotte Spencer
As of April, 2021, Congress is considering several different pieces of legislation which address hate crimes. Many of them focus on hate crimes directly. Others have a different focus, but also take on the subject of hate crimes. Here is a look at some notable examples which could become law this year.
H.R.1834 – Hate Crimes Commission Act of 2021
If made law this would create a U.S. commission on hate crimes to study and make recommendations on the prevention of hate crimes. This bill has been introduced in the House, and has bipartisan support, including almost 150 cosponsors.
H.R.1843 – To facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes
If made law this would facilitate an expedited review of Covid-19 based hate crimes. It has been introduced to the House and has more than 175 cosponsors so far. This is a House equivalent of S. 728 and S.937.
S.728 – To facilitate the expedited review of COVID-19 hate crimes
If made law this would facilitate an expedited review of Covid-19 based hate crimes. It has been introduced to the Senate and has 15 cosponsors so far. This is a Senate equivalent of H.R. 1843.
H.R.55 – Emmett Till Antilynching Act
The “Emmett Till Antilynching Act” defines lynching as a hate crime. It has been introduced in the House and has more than 150 cosponsors so far, including bipartisan support.
H.R.133 – David’s Law
“David’s Law” or the “David Ray Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2021” specifies up to 10 years in prison for causing bodily injury using a firearm, fire, or an explosive device because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability. It also specifies up to life in prison if death results, or if the crime involves kidnapping, or aggravated sexual abuse. It also specifies up to life in prison if the crime involves an attempt to kill, kidnap, or commit aggravated sexual abuse.
H.R.350 – Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021
The “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021” has more than 200 cosponsors so far, including bipartisan support. As the title indicates, this focuses the issue of domestic terrorism. It would also address the nexus between hate crimes and domestic terrorism. This is the companion bill to S. 963.
S.963 – Domestic Terrorism and Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2021
Like H.R.350, this would establish offices within several different government departments to combat domestic terrorism. It would also address the nexus between hate crimes and domestic terrorism. This is the companion bill to H.R.350.
H.R.677 – JUSTICE Act
The “Justice Act” has been introduced in the House and has more than 125 cosponsors so far.
The official title of this bill is “To improve and reform policing practices, accountability and transparency.” Short titles as introduced for portions of this bill include:
“Breonna Taylor Notification Act of 2021”
“George Floyd and Walter Scott Notification Act”
“Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2021” and
“National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2021”
H.R.1111 – Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2021
The “Department of Peacebuilding Act of 2021” would establish this department in the executive branch, dedicated to peacebuilding, peacemaking, and the study and promotion of conditions conducive to both domestic and international peace and a culture of peace. Addressing hate in various circumstances would be part of the department’s responsibilities.
H.R.1201 – International Human Rights Defense Act of 2021
The “International Human Rights Defense Act of 2021” would establish a Special Envoy for the human rights of LGBTQI peoples in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the Department of State. It would also address hate crimes.
H.R.49 – To designate the National Pulse Memorial
This would establish a national memorial at the location of the Pulse Night Club attack. It would be known as the “National Pulse Memorial.”
S.937 – COVID–19 Hate Crimes Act
This has been introduced to the Senate and has more than 40 cosponsors so far. It would direct the Attorney General to appoint an employee or officer at the Department of Justice whose sole responsibility would be to expedite review of Covid-19 hate crimes and reports of such crimes. It would also require the Attorney General to issue guidance for law enforcement on how to establish online reporting of hate crimes and make online reporting available in multiple languages. It would also require establishing guidance on eliminating racially discriminatory language in describing Covid-19. On April 14, 2021, Senators voted 92-6 to proceed to debate on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
UPDATE: This bill passed the Senate shortly after the original publication of this article on April 22 in a 94 to 1 vote with only Sen. Hawley opposing it.
H.R.2383 – Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act of 2021
The long title of this bill is “To provide incentives for hate crime reporting, provide grants for State-run hate crime hotlines, and establish additional penalties for individuals convicted under the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.” This bill has bipartisan support. It would strengthen penalties and address issues with reporting hate crimes by increasing incentives for reporting, and funding state hotlines for reporting. This bill has more than 25 cosponsors so far, including bipartisan support.
S.1086 – A bill to provide incentives for hate crime reporting, provide grants for State-run hate crime hotlines, and establish alternative sentencing for individuals convicted under the Matthew Shephard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
This is the companion bill to H.R.2383. It also has bipartisan support.
H.R.2416 – To amend title 18, United States Code, to clarify the causation element in the Federal hate crime statute, and for other purposes.
This bill has more than 25 cosponsors so far. It would help clarify language in current hate crime legislation. Specifically, it would help clarify the elements one needs to prove in court to convict one of a hate crime.
H.R.2536 – To provide relief for victims of hate crimes, advance the safety and well-being of immigrants and refugees, and fund improved law enforcement and prosecution official training.
This would focus on training for law enforcement and prosecutors to help victims of hate crimes. It has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
H.R.2539 – To direct the Secretary of Education to make grants for hate crime prevention and prejudice reduction education, and for other purposes.
This would help with funding the effort to reduce hate crimes. It has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor.
H.R.2541 – To amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to establish grants to reduce the incidence of hate crimes, and for other purposes.
This would help with funding the effort to reduce hate crimes. It has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.
S.1235 – A bill to establish a United States Commission on Hate Crimes to study and make recommendations on the prevention of the commission of hate crimes, and for other purposes.
This is the most recent of several bills proposed to create a commission to study this matter. It has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee. This article was last updated on April 22, 2021. For the most up to date information see https://www.congress.gov/. If you liked this article, you may also be interested in our previous article about pending legislation concerning crime, prison, and law enforcement, which also touches on proposed hate crime laws.