"Long Overdue" Federal Hate Crimes Bill Languishes For Another Year
New York, NY, December 7, 2007 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed "profound disappointment" that a federal hate crimes law will not be enacted by Congress this year. The Matthew Shepard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, "a long overdue and needed tool in the fight against hate violence," was stripped from a defense authorization bill yesterday after it became apparent it would not survive a threatened veto.
"We are profoundly disappointed that Congress missed an opportunity to enact this legislation because of political maneuvering related to other issues, in a year when it had support of majorities in both the Senate and the House," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This bill would have significantly expanded existing law, and given federal law enforcement a long overdue and needed tool in the fight against hate violence."
The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crime Prevention Act, which would have allowed the Justice Department to assist local hate crime prosecutions and was supported by many law enforcement agencies, was approved by the House in May. In September, facing a threatened veto by the president, 60 senators voted to add the measure to the Department of Defense Authorization bill.
The bill was stripped because of conservative opposition to the hate crime provisions and unrelated opposition among Democrats to the larger Pentagon policy bill. The hate crime provisions also were stripped from Defense measures in 2000 and 2004.
The League, a pioneer in drafting and supporting hate crime legislation, thanked Senators Edward Kennedy, Carl Levin and Gordon Smith, and Representatives John Conyers, Barney Frank, Tammy Baldwin and Mark Kirk for their extraordinary dedication to this issue.
More information on hate crime laws, including specific information on the existing laws in 45 states and the District of Columbia, is available on the League's Web site.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.