Text: S.852 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (03/14/2019)

 
[Congressional Bills 116th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[S. 852 Introduced in Senate (IS)]

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116th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                 S. 852

 To provide for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for 
the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education 
                        programs or activities.


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                             March 14, 2019

Mr. Scott of South Carolina (for himself, Mr. Casey, Mr. Rubio, and Mr. 
   Isakson) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and 
  referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
 To provide for the consideration of a definition of anti-Semitism for 
the enforcement of Federal antidiscrimination laws concerning education 
                        programs or activities.

    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 ``Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 
2019''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress makes the following findings:
            (1) Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (referred to 
        in the section as ``title VI'') is one of the principal 
        antidiscrimination statutes enforced by the Department of 
        Education's Office for Civil Rights.
            (2) Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, 
        color, or national origin.
            (3) Both the Department of Justice and the Department of 
        Education have properly concluded that title VI prohibits 
        discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of 
        other religious groups when the discrimination is based on the 
        group's actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic 
        characteristics or when the discrimination is based on actual 
        or perceived citizenship or residence in a country whose 
        residents share a dominant religion or a distinct religious 
        identity.
            (4) A September 8, 2010, letter from Assistant Attorney 
        General Thomas E. Perez to Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights 
        Russlynn H. Ali stated that ``[a]lthough Title VI does not 
        prohibit discrimination on the basis of religion, 
        discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, and members of 
        other groups violates Title VI when that discrimination is 
        based on the group's actual or perceived shared ancestry or 
        ethnic characteristics''.
            (5) To assist State and local educational agencies and 
        schools in their efforts to comply with Federal law, the 
        Department of Education periodically issues Dear Colleague 
        letters. On a number of occasions, these letters set forth the 
        Department of Education's interpretation of the statutory and 
        regulatory obligations of schools under title VI.
            (6) On September 13, 2004, the Department of Education 
        issued a Dear Colleague letter regarding the obligations of 
        schools (including colleges) under title VI to address 
        incidents involving religious discrimination. The 2004 letter 
        specifically notes that ``since the attacks of September 11, 
        2001, OCR has received complaints of race or national origin 
        harassment commingled with aspects of religious discrimination 
        against Arab Muslim, Sikh, and Jewish students.''.
            (7) An October 26, 2010, Dear Colleague letter issued by 
        the Department of Education stated, ``While Title VI does not 
        cover discrimination based solely on religion, groups that face 
        discrimination on the basis of actual or perceived shared 
        ancestry or ethnic characteristics may not be denied protection 
        under Title VI on the ground that they also share a common 
        faith. These principles apply not just to Jewish students, but 
        also to students from any discrete religious group that shares, 
        or is perceived to share, ancestry or ethnic characteristics 
        (e.g., Muslims or Sikhs).''.
            (8) Anti-Semitism, and harassment on the basis of actual or 
        perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics with a 
        religious group, remains a persistent, disturbing problem in 
        elementary and secondary schools and on college campuses.
            (9) Students from a range of diverse backgrounds, including 
        Jewish, Arab Muslim, and Sikh students, are being threatened, 
        harassed, or intimidated in their schools (including on their 
        campuses) on the basis of their shared ancestry or ethnic 
        characteristics including through harassing conduct that 
        creates a hostile environment so severe, pervasive, or 
        persistent so as to interfere with or limit some students' 
        ability to participate in or benefit from the services, 
        activities, or opportunities offered by schools.
            (10) The 2010 Dear Colleague letter cautioned schools that 
        they ``must take prompt and effective steps reasonably 
        calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile 
        environment, and its effects, and prevent the harassment from 
        recurring,'' but did not provide guidance on current 
        manifestations of anti-Semitism, including discriminatory anti-
        Semitic conduct that is couched as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.
            (11) The definition and examples referred to in paragraphs 
        (1) and (2) of section 3 have been valuable tools to help 
        identify contemporary manifestations of anti-Semitism, and 
        include useful examples of discriminatory anti-Israel conduct 
        that crosses the line into anti-Semitism.
            (12) Awareness of this definition of anti-Semitism will 
        increase understanding of the parameters of contemporary anti-
        Jewish conduct and will assist the Department of Education in 
        determining whether an investigation of anti-Semitism under 
        title VI is warranted.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act, the term ``definition of anti-
Semitism''--
            (1) includes the definition of anti-Semitism adopted on May 
        26, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance 
        (referred to in this section as ``IHRA''), of which the United 
        States is a member, which definition has been adopted by the 
        Department of State; and
            (2) includes the ``[c]ontemporary examples of 
        antisemitism'' identified in the IHRA definition.

SEC. 4. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION FOR TITLE VI OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 
              1964.

    In reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a 
violation of title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d 
et seq.) on the basis of race, color, or national origin, based on an 
individual's actual or perceived shared Jewish ancestry or Jewish 
ethnic characteristics, the Department of Education shall take into 
consideration the definition of anti-Semitism as part of the 
Department's assessment of whether the practice was motivated by anti-
Semitic intent.

SEC. 5. ADMINISTRATION.

    The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights shall administer and 
enforce title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000d et 
seq.) and title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. 1681 
et seq.) in a manner that is consistent with the manner of 
administration and enforcement described in the Dear Colleague letter 
issued on September 13, 2004, by the Deputy Assistant Secretary for 
Enforcement of the Department of Education, entitled ``Title VI and 
Title IX Religious Discrimination in Schools and Colleges''.

SEC. 6. OTHER RULES OF CONSTRUCTION.

    (a) General Rule of Construction.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
construed--
            (1) to expand the authority of the Secretary of Education;
            (2) to alter the standards pursuant to which the Department 
        of Education makes a determination that harassing conduct 
        amounts to actionable discrimination; or
            (3) to diminish or infringe upon the rights protected under 
        any other provision of law that is in effect as of the date of 
        enactment of this Act.
    (b) Constitutional Protections.--Nothing in this Act shall be 
construed to diminish or infringe upon any right protected under the 
First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
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