Text: S.488 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Considered and Passed Senate (02/14/2019)

 
[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 488 Considered and Passed Senate (CPS)]

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116th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 488

    To amend title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a 
          deprivation of civil rights, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                           February 14, 2019

 Ms. Harris (for herself, Mr. Booker, Mr. Scott of South Carolina, Mr. 
   Blumenthal, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Jones, Mr. Reed, Ms. Warren, Mrs. 
Murray, Mr. Van Hollen, Mr. Brown, Mr. King, Mr. Markey, Ms. Klobuchar, 
 Mrs. Feinstein, Mr. Coons, Ms. Baldwin, Mr. Kaine, Ms. Duckworth, Mr. 
  Warner, Ms. Cortez Masto, Mr. Durbin, Mrs. Shaheen, Mr. Wyden, Ms. 
Hassan, Mr. Murphy, Mrs. Gillibrand, Mr. Tillis, Mr. Rubio, Ms. Smith, 
 Mr. Cardin, Mrs. Fischer, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Stabenow, Mr. Perdue, Mr. 
 Bennet, Ms. Collins, Mr. Lankford, Mr. Inhofe, Mr. Isakson, Mrs. Hyde-
Smith, Ms. Ernst, Mr. Grassley, Mrs. Capito, Mr. Cassidy, Mr. Portman, 
and Ms. Murkowski) introduced the following bill; which was read twice, 
              considered, read the third time, and passed

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
    To amend title 18, United States Code, to specify lynching as a 
          deprivation of civil rights, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Justice for Victims of Lynching Act 
of 2019''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) The crime of lynching succeeded slavery as the ultimate 
        expression of racism in the United States following 
        Reconstruction.
            (2) Lynching was a widely acknowledged practice in the 
        United States until the middle of the 20th century.
            (3) Lynching was a crime that occurred throughout the 
        United States, with documented incidents in all but 4 States.
            (4) At least 4,742 people, predominantly African Americans, 
        were reported lynched in the United States between 1882 and 
        1968.
            (5) Ninety-nine percent of all perpetrators of lynching 
        escaped from punishment by State or local officials.
            (6) Lynching prompted African Americans to form the 
        National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 
        (referred to in this section as the ``NAACP'') and prompted 
        members of B'nai B'rith to found the Anti-Defamation League.
            (7) Mr. Walter White, as a member of the NAACP and later as 
        the executive secretary of the NAACP from 1931 to 1955, 
        meticulously investigated lynchings in the United States and 
        worked tirelessly to end segregation and racialized terror.
            (8) Nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in 
        Congress during the first half of the 20th century.
            (9) Between 1890 and 1952, 7 Presidents petitioned Congress 
        to end lynching.
            (10) Between 1920 and 1940, the House of Representatives 
        passed 3 strong anti-lynching measures.
            (11) Protection against lynching was the minimum and most 
        basic of Federal responsibilities, and the Senate considered 
        but failed to enact anti-lynching legislation despite repeated 
        requests by civil rights groups, Presidents, and the House of 
        Representatives to do so.
            (12) The publication of ``Without Sanctuary: Lynching 
        Photography in America'' helped bring greater awareness and 
        proper recognition of the victims of lynching.
            (13) Only by coming to terms with history can the United 
        States effectively champion human rights abroad.
            (14) An apology offered in the spirit of true repentance 
        moves the United States toward reconciliation and may become 
        central to a new understanding, on which improved racial 
        relations can be forged.
            (15) Having concluded that a reckoning with our own history 
        is the only way the country can effectively champion human 
        rights abroad, 90 Members of the United States Senate agreed to 
        Senate Resolution 39, 109th Congress, on June 13, 2005, to 
        apologize to the victims of lynching and the descendants of 
        those victims for the failure of the Senate to enact anti-
        lynching legislation.
            (16) The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which 
        opened to the public in Montgomery, Alabama, on April 26, 2018, 
        is the Nation's first memorial dedicated to the legacy of 
        enslaved Black people, people terrorized by lynching, African 
        Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and 
        people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of 
        guilt and police violence.
            (17) Notwithstanding the Senate's apology and the 
        heightened awareness and education about the Nation's legacy 
        with lynching, it is wholly necessary and appropriate for the 
        Congress to enact legislation, after 100 years of unsuccessful 
        legislative efforts, finally to make lynching a Federal crime.
            (18) Further, it is the sense of Congress that criminal 
        action by a group increases the likelihood that the criminal 
        object of that group will be successfully attained and 
        decreases the probability that the individuals involved will 
        depart from their path of criminality. Therefore, it is 
        appropriate to specify criminal penalties for the crime of 
        lynching, or any attempt or conspiracy to commit lynching.
            (19) The United States Senate agreed to unanimously Senate 
        Resolution 118, 115th Congress, on April 5, 2017, 
        ``[c]ondemning hate crime and any other form of racism, 
        religious or ethnic bias, discrimination, incitement to 
        violence, or animus targeting a minority in the United States'' 
        and taking notice specifically of Federal Bureau of 
        Investigation statistics demonstrating that ``among single-bias 
        hate crime incidents in the United States, 59.2 percent of 
        victims were targeted due to racial, ethnic, or ancestral bias, 
        and among those victims, 52.2 percent were victims of crimes 
        motivated by the offenders' anti-Black or anti-African American 
        bias''.
            (20) On September 14, 2017, President Donald J. Trump 
        signed into law Senate Joint Resolution 49 (Public Law 115-58; 
        131 Stat. 1149), wherein Congress ``condemn[ed] the racist 
        violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place between 
        August 11 and August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia'' 
        and ``urg[ed] the President and his administration to speak out 
        against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, 
        anti-Semitism, and White supremacy; and use all resources 
        available to the President and the President's Cabinet to 
        address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the 
        United States''.
            (21) Senate Joint Resolution 49 (Public Law 115-58; 131 
        Stat. 1149) specifically took notice of ``hundreds of torch-
        bearing White nationalists, White supremacists, Klansmen, and 
        neo-Nazis [who] chanted racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-
        immigrant slogans and violently engaged with counter-
        demonstrators on and around the grounds of the University of 
        Virginia in Charlottesville'' and that these groups 
        ``reportedly are organizing similar events in other cities in 
        the United States and communities everywhere are concerned 
        about the growing and open display of hate and violence being 
        perpetrated by those groups''.
            (22) Lynching was a pernicious and pervasive tool that was 
        used to interfere with multiple aspects of life--including the 
        exercise of Federally protected rights, as enumerated in 
        section 245 of title 18, United States Code, housing rights, as 
        enumerated in section 901 of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (42 
        U.S.C. 3631), and the free exercise of religion, as enumerated 
        in section 247 of title 18, United States Code. Interference 
        with these rights was often effectuated by multiple offenders 
        and groups, rather than isolated individuals. Therefore, 
        prohibiting conspiracies to violate each of these rights 
        recognizes the history of lynching in the United States and 
        serves to prohibit its use in the future.

SEC. 3. LYNCHING.

    (a) Offense.--Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is 
amended by adding at the end the following:
``Sec. 250. Lynching
    ``Whoever conspires with another person to violate section 245, 
247, or 249 of this title or section 901 of the Civil Rights Act of 
1968 (42 U.S.C. 3631) shall be punished in the same manner as a 
completed violation of such section, except that if the maximum term of 
imprisonment for such completed violation is less than 10 years, the 
person may be imprisoned for not more than 10 years.''.
    (b) Table of Sections Amendment.--The table of sections for chapter 
13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the 
item relating to section 249 the following:

``250. Lynching.''.
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