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116th Congress }                                            { Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session   }                                            { 116-267

======================================================================

 
                      EMMETT TILL ANTILYNCHING ACT

                                _______
                                

October 31, 2019.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

    Mr. Nadler, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 
                               following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany H.R. 35]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 35) to amend section 249 of title 18, United States 
Code, to specify lynching as a hate crime act, having 
considered the same, report favorably thereon without amendment 
and recommend that the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     5
Committee Consideration..........................................     5
Committee Votes..................................................     5
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     5
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures and Congressional 
  Budget Office Cost Estimate....................................     5
Duplication of Federal Programs..................................     5
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     5
Advisory on Earmarks.............................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis......................................     6
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 35, the ``Emmett Till Antilynching Act,'' would amend 
section 249 of title 18, United States Code, to specify 
lynching as a hate crime under federal law. The bill corrects a 
longstanding omission from Federal civil rights law.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

    Lynchings were violent and public acts of torture used for 
nearly a century to enforce racial segregation.\1\ Despite 
claiming the lives of thousands of victims, the perpetrators of 
these acts of terror were never held accountable and official 
inaction has left lasting scars on impacted communities.\2\ 
Despite enacting a broad range of civil rights protections, the 
Federal government has never specifically outlawed lynching, 
despite the unique damage it caused to the fabric of democratic 
society.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\Equal Justice Initiative, Lynching in America: Confronting the 
Legacy of Racial Terror, at 5 (3rd ed. 2017), https://
lynchinginamerica.eji.org/report-landing (last visited Oct. 29, 2019).
    \2\Id. at 4.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Lynching has been generally defined as a premeditated 
extrajudicial killing by a group.\3\ The term has been most 
often used to characterize informal public executions by a mob 
in order to punish an alleged transgressor or to intimidate a 
group. Lynching can also be employed as an extreme form of 
informal group social control, and often conducted with the 
display of a public spectacle for maximum intimidation. H.R. 35 
is named in honor of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old African 
American youth from Chicago who was lynched in 1955 while 
visiting an uncle in Mississippi.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \3\See Amy Louise Wood, Rough Justice: Lynching and American 
Society 1874-1947 (North Carolina University Press (2009)).
    \4\At his mother's insistence, Till received an open-casket funeral 
so that people could see how badly her son had been beaten, which 
galvanized the response of the African American community throughout 
the nation. The state of Mississippi tried two defendants for his 
murder, but they were acquitted by an all-white jury, and later 
admitted their guilt.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    During the period between the Civil War and World War II, 
thousands of African Americans were lynched in the United 
States. Though lynching touched all races and religions, the 
practice was predominant in the South, and four out of five 
victims were African American. In 1892, the Tuskegee Institute 
began to record statistics of lynchings and reported that 4,742 
reported incidents had taken place by 1968, of which 3,445 of 
the victims were African Americans.\5\ Through additional 
research, the Equal Justice Initiative (``EJI'') documented 
4,075 ``racial terror lynchings'' in twelve Southern states 
between the end of Reconstruction in 1877 and 1950.\6\ These 
violent incidents profoundly impacted race relations and shaped 
the geographic, political, social, and economic conditions of 
African American communities in ways that are still evident 
today and were largely tolerated by state and federal 
officials.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\See Tuskegee University Archives Repository, Lynching, Whites & 
Negroes, 1882-1968, retrieved at http://archive.tuskegee.edu/archive/
handle/123456789/51; Jessie P. Guzman, Negro Yearbook (1952), at 275-
279, https://archive.org/details/negroyearbook52tuskrich (last visited 
Oct. 29, 2019).
    \6\See Equal Justice Initiative, Lynching in America; Confronting 
the Legacy of Racial Terror, at 5 (3rd ed. 2017), https://
lynchinginamerica.eji.org/report-landing (last visited Oct. 29, 2019). 
EJI distinguishes ``terror lynchings'' from racial violence and hate 
crimes that were prosecuted as criminal acts, classifying the incidents 
as acts of terrorism because the murders were carried out with 
impunity, sometimes in broad daylight, often ``on the courthouse 
lawn.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    By the end of the nineteenth century, Southern lynching had 
become a tool of racial control that terrorized and targeted 
African Americans and their communities for wider violence. 
Though the circumstances of the thousands of African Americans 
lynched between 1877 and 1950 differed in many respects, in 
most cases, their murders can be categorized as one or more of 
the following: (1) Lynchings that resulted from a wildly 
distorted fear of interracial sex; (2) lynchings in response to 
casual social transgressions; (3) lynchings based on 
allegations of serious violent crime; (4) public spectacle 
lynchings; (5) lynchings that escalated into large-scale 
violence targeting the entire African American community; and 
(6) lynchings of sharecroppers, ministers, and community 
leaders who resisted mistreatment, which were most common 
between 1915 and 1940.\7\ EJI research revealed that lynchings 
peaked between 1880 and 1940, with Mississippi, Georgia, and 
Louisiana having the highest absolute number of African 
American victims during this period.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \7\Id. at 10.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The antilynching movement set the stage for the creation of 
the civil rights movement that we recognize today. African-
Americans undertook efforts to combat the terror of lynching 
and the threat of racial violence through grassroots activism 
and the founding of integrated social justice organizations. 
The work of the National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People (``NAACP'') was pivotal in awakening the nation 
to the urgency of combatting lynching. Founded in 1909 as an 
interracial civil rights protest organization, the NAACP 
conducted thorough investigations of lynchings and other crimes 
committed against African Americans and issued regular reports 
concerning the incidents. In 1919 the NAACP published Thirty 
Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918, which was a 
revelation of the causes of lynching and the circumstances 
under which the crimes occurred.\8\ Beginning in 1921, the 
NAACP also actively began endorsing antilynching legislation to 
make lynching a federal crime. Anti-lynching activists, like 
journalists Ida B. Wells and T. Thomas Fortune and Tuskegee 
sociologist Monroe Work, further harnessed the growing power of 
the black press to demand national accountability for racial 
violence.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 
Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States 1889-1918 (Apr. 1919), 
https://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/
naacp/pdf/lynching.pdf (last visited Oct. 29, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The first federal antilynching legislation was introduced 
by Congressman George Henry White, then the only African 
American Member of Congress, in 1900 and referred to the 
Committee on the Judiciary.\9\ During the first half of the 
twentieth century, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were 
introduced in Congress, but none were successful. Between 1920 
and 1940, the House of Representatives passed three strong 
antilynching measures, the closest of which Congress came to 
enacting was sponsored by Congressman Leonidas C. Dyer in 1922. 
The Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill provided fines and imprisonment for 
persons convicted of lynching in federal courts, and fines and 
penalties against states, counties, and towns which failed to 
use reasonable efforts to protect citizens from mob violence. 
Although the bill was quickly passed by a large majority in the 
House of Representatives, and supported by then-President 
Warren G. Harding, it was prevented from coming to a vote in 
1922, 1923, and 1924 in the Senate due to filibusters by the 
Southern Democratic bloc who claimed the legislation would be 
unconstitutional and an infringement upon states' rights.\10\ 
However, the extensive debate on the bill, in combination with 
the 1919 NAACP report and the related National Conference on 
Lynching, moved local and state governments to take lynching 
more seriously, leading to a dramatic decrease of incidents 
after 1922.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \9\See Benjamin Justensen, George Henry White and the Anti-Lynching 
Bill of 1900 (Sept. 17, 2016), https://www.georgehenrywhite.com/single-
post/2016/09/17/George-Henry-White-and-the-Anti-Lynching-Bill-of-1900 
(last visited Oct. 29, 2019). Rep. White's legislation was ultimately 
unsuccessful and would not be voted on by the House of Representatives 
before his departure from that body in 1901.
    \10\See Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives, 
Office of the Historian, Black Americans in Congress, 1870-2007, Anti-
Lynching Legislation Renewed, U.S. Government Printing Office (2008), 
https://history.house.gov/Exhibitions-and-Publications/BAIC/Historical-
Essays/Temporary-Farewell/Anti-Lynching-Legislation/ (last visited Oct. 
29, 2019).
    \11\Southern white organizations also began to condemn lynchings 
during the two decades before World War II. Among them were the 
Commission for Interracial Cooperation, which did research and issued 
publications that provided additional facts on lynchings, and the 
Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, which was 
founded in Atlanta in 1930. See Robert A. Gibson, The Negro Holocaust: 
Lynching and Race Riots in the United States 1880-1950, Yale-New Haven 
Teacher's Institute (2004) http://teachersinstitute.yale.edu/
curriculum/units/1979/2/79.02.04.x.html (last visited Oct. 29, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was the 
closest that Congress ever came in the post-Reconstruction era 
to enacting anti-lynching legislation. Codified at 18 U.S.C. 
Sec. 241, the civil rights conspiracy statute makes it unlawful 
for two or more persons to conspire to injure, oppress, 
threaten, or intimidate any person of any state, territory, or 
district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or 
privilege secured to him or her by the Constitution or the laws 
of the United States (or because of his or her having exercised 
the same) and further makes it unlawful for two or more persons 
to go in disguise on the highway or premises of another person 
with intent to prevent or hinder his or her free exercise or 
enjoyment of such rights.\12\ Though section 241 does not 
specify the offense of lynching as a federal crime, this 
section has been used by the Department of Justice to prosecute 
civil rights era crimes and hate crimes that were described as 
lynching in public discourse.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Depending upon the circumstances of the crime, and any 
resulting injury, the offense is punishable by a range of fines and/or 
imprisonment for any term of years up to life, or the death penalty. 18 
U.S.C. Sec. 241.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Despite the existence of federal criminal enforcement 
against hate crimes, it remains important to enact federal 
antilynching legislation due to the historical context of these 
violent incidents. Lynching was a violent tactic of racial 
subordination and closely linked to the deprivation of 
freedmen's post-Reconstruction constitutional rights. The fear 
of lynching was also a major factor in the Great Migration to 
the North and changed the demographics of the nation. 
Politically, the terms of the lynching debate still echo 
through Congress and influence the debate around social justice 
policy. For that reason, in 2005, the Senate passed a 
resolution, sponsored by Senators Mary Landrieu and George 
Allen, apologizing for the Senate's failure to enact 
antilynching legislation as a Federal crime, with Senator 
Landrieu commenting that, ``There may be no other injustice in 
American history for which the Senate so uniquely bears 
responsibility.''\13\ Taking a further step to equal the record 
of the House of Representatives, the Senate voted unanimously 
in favor of the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act on December 
19, 2018, putting to rest nearly a century of opposition to 
antilynching legislation in the that chamber.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \13\151 Cong. Rec. S6365 (daily ed. June 13, 2005) (statement of 
Sen. Landrieu); (Avis Thomas-Lester, A Senate Apology for Lynching, 
Washington Post, June 14, 2005, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/
politics/2005/06/14/a-senate-apology-for-history-on-lynching/324dade8-
ec0e-46d9-9674-c81c247eb214/.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Hearings

    The Committee on the Judiciary held no hearings on H.R. 35.

                        Committee Consideration

    On June 12, 2019, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered the bill, H.R. 35, favorably reported without 
amendment, by a voice vote, a quorum being present.

                            Committee Votes

    In compliance with clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that no 
rollcall votes occurred during the Committee's consideration of 
H.R. 35.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee advises that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

  New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures and Congressional Budget 
                          Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(2) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and section 
308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect 
to requirements of clause (3)(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives and section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee has requested 
but not received a cost estimate for this bill from the 
Director of Congressional Budget Office. The Committee has 
requested but not received from the Director of the 
Congressional Budget Office a statement as to whether this bill 
contains any new budget authority, spending authority, credit 
authority, or an increase or decrease in revenues or tax 
expenditures.

                    Duplication of Federal Programs

    No provision of H.R. 35 establishes or reauthorizes a 
program of the federal government known to be duplicative of 
another federal program, a program that was included in any 
report from the Government Accountability Office to Congress 
pursuant to section 21 of Public Law 111-139, or a program 
related to a program identified in the most recent Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    The Committee states that pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, H.R. 35 
will increase public safety and heal past and present racial 
injustice.

                          Advisory on Earmarks

    In accordance with clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, H.R. 35 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    The following discussion describes the bill as reported by 
the Committee.
    Sec. 1. Short title. Section 1 sets forth the short title 
of the bill as the ``Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act.''
    Sec. 2. Findings. Section 2 sets forth a series of findings 
regarding: (1) the history and statistics of lynching incidents 
in the United States, (2) actions taken by citizen groups to 
advocate for antilynching legislation, and (3) the frequency, 
historical character, and legislative history of federal 
antilynching legislation.
    Sec. 3. Specifying lynching as a hate crime act. Section 3 
amends 18 U.S.C. Sec. 249(a) to add a new subjection that 
designates lynching as a hate crime punishable by a prison term 
up to life, a fine, or both.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3(e) of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law 
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new 
matter is printed in italic, and existing law in which no 
change is proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 18, UNITED STATES CODE

PART I--CRIMES

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


CHAPTER 13--CIVIL RIGHTS

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *


Sec. 249. Hate crime acts

  (a) In General.--
          (1) Offenses involving actual or perceived race, 
        color, religion, or national origin.--Whoever, whether 
        or not acting under color of law, willfully causes 
        bodily injury to any person or, through the use of 
        fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or 
        incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to 
        any person, because of the actual or perceived race, 
        color, religion, or national origin of any person--
                  (A) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 
                years, fined in accordance with this title, or 
                both; and
                  (B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years 
                or for life, fined in accordance with this 
                title, or both, if--
                          (i) death results from the offense; 
                        or
                          (ii) the offense includes kidnapping 
                        or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated 
                        sexual abuse or an attempt to commit 
                        aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt 
                        to kill.
          (2) Offenses involving actual or perceived religion, 
        national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender 
        identity, or disability.--
                  (A) In general.--Whoever, whether or not 
                acting under color of law, in any circumstance 
                described in subparagraph (B) or paragraph (3), 
                willfully causes bodily injury to any person 
                or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a 
                dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary 
                device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any 
                person, because of the actual or perceived 
                religion, national origin, gender, sexual 
                orientation, gender identity, or disability of 
                any person--
                          (i) shall be imprisoned not more than 
                        10 years, fined in accordance with this 
                        title, or both; and
                          (ii) shall be imprisoned for any term 
                        of years or for life, fined in 
                        accordance with this title, or both, 
                        if--
                                  (I) death results from the 
                                offense; or
                                  (II) the offense includes 
                                kidnapping or an attempt to 
                                kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse 
                                or an attempt to commit 
                                aggravated sexual abuse, or an 
                                attempt to kill.
                  (B) Circumstances described.--For purposes of 
                subparagraph (A), the circumstances described 
                in this subparagraph are that--
                          (i) the conduct described in 
                        subparagraph (A) occurs during the 
                        course of, or as the result of, the 
                        travel of the defendant or the victim--
                                  (I) across a State line or 
                                national border; or
                                  (II) using a channel, 
                                facility, or instrumentality of 
                                interstate or foreign commerce;
                          (ii) the defendant uses a channel, 
                        facility, or instrumentality of 
                        interstate or foreign commerce in 
                        connection with the conduct described 
                        in subparagraph (A);
                          (iii) in connection with the conduct 
                        described in subparagraph (A), the 
                        defendant employs a firearm, dangerous 
                        weapon, explosive or incendiary device, 
                        or other weapon that has traveled in 
                        interstate or foreign commerce; or
                          (iv) the conduct described in 
                        subparagraph (A)--
                                  (I) interferes with 
                                commercial or other economic 
                                activity in which the victim is 
                                engaged at the time of the 
                                conduct; or
                                  (II) otherwise affects 
                                interstate or foreign commerce.
          (3) Offenses occurring in the special maritime or 
        territorial jurisdiction of the united states.--
        Whoever, within the special maritime or territorial 
        jurisdiction of the United States, engages in conduct 
        described in paragraph (1) or in paragraph (2)(A) 
        (without regard to whether that conduct occurred in a 
        circumstance described in paragraph (2)(B)) shall be 
        subject to the same penalties as prescribed in those 
        paragraphs.
          (4) Offenses involving lynching.--Whoever, whether or 
        not acting under color of law, willfully, acting as 
        part of any collection of people, assembled for the 
        purpose and with the intention of committing an act of 
        violence upon any person, causes death to any person, 
        shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, 
        fined under this title, or both.
          [(4)] (5) Guidelines.--All prosecutions conducted by 
        the United States under this section shall be 
        undertaken pursuant to guidelines issued by the 
        Attorney General, or the designee of the Attorney 
        General, to be included in the United States Attorneys' 
        Manual that shall establish neutral and objective 
        criteria for determining whether a crime was committed 
        because of the actual or perceived status of any 
        person.
  (b) Certification Requirement.--
          (1) In general.--No prosecution of any offense 
        described in this subsection may be undertaken by the 
        United States, except under the certification in 
        writing of the Attorney General, or a designee, that--
                  (A) the State does not have jurisdiction;
                  (B) the State has requested that the Federal 
                Government assume jurisdiction;
                  (C) the verdict or sentence obtained pursuant 
                to State charges left demonstratively 
                unvindicated the Federal interest in 
                eradicating bias-motivated violence; or
                  (D) a prosecution by the United States is in 
                the public interest and necessary to secure 
                substantial justice.
          (2) Rule of construction.--Nothing in this subsection 
        shall be construed to limit the authority of Federal 
        officers, or a Federal grand jury, to investigate 
        possible violations of this section.
  (c) Definitions.--In this section--
          (1) the term ``bodily injury'' has the meaning given 
        such term in section 1365(h)(4) of this title, but does 
        not include solely emotional or psychological harm to 
        the victim;
          (2) the term ``explosive or incendiary device'' has 
        the meaning given such term in section 232 of this 
        title;
          (3) the term ``firearm'' has the meaning given such 
        term in section 921(a) of this title;
          (4) the term ``gender identity'' means actual or 
        perceived gender-related characteristics; and
          (5) the term ``State'' includes the District of 
        Columbia, Puerto Rico, and any other territory or 
        possession of the United States.
  (d) Statute of Limitations.--
          (1) Offenses not resulting in death.--Except as 
        provided in paragraph (2), no person shall be 
        prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense under 
        this section unless the indictment for such offense is 
        found, or the information for such offense is 
        instituted, not later than 7 years after the date on 
        which the offense was committed.
          (2) Death resulting offenses.--An indictment or 
        information alleging that an offense under this section 
        resulted in death may be found or instituted at any 
        time without limitation.