- The Washington Times - Friday, June 7, 2002

Some lawmakers want to make sure that federal and state hate-crimes laws and efforts to expand them do not hamper the war on terrorism.
"If 'hate crime' is interpreted to include picking people out allegedly because of their race and taking some kind of discriminatory action against them, then clearly we've got a problem," said Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican.
Mr. Kyl said there is "already a suggestion of that" with lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of five Arab Americans who say they are victims of racial profiling because they were removed from commercial flights after September 11.
Mr. Kyl said he does not know whether the hate-crimes bill Democrats plan to take to the Senate floor soon could hamper the war on terrorism in any way. And most lawmakers interviewed had not considered that possibility.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut Democrat, said it was "far-fetched," but worth looking into.
The sponsor of the Senate bill Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat dismissed that thinking, saying the criteria for what constitutes hate crimes under his bill are very clear, among them that it must be a crime of violence.
Mr. Kennedy also noted, "There have been a number of hate crimes against men and women of Middle East ancestry."
Mr. Kennedy's bill, which Democrats plan to bring up after the Senate finishes a supplemental appropriations bill, would broaden the authority of the federal government to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. It would expand the federal definition of hate crimes to include those motivated by a person's sex, sexual orientation or disability, and would apply regardless of when or where a hate crime is committed.
Current federal law allows only race, color, religion or national origin to be the basis of a federal hate-crime case, and the covered offenses are limited to crimes committed against a person while doing one of six federally protected activities, such as voting or going to school.
Mr. Kyl said if it is limited only to violent crimes, then some of his concern is allayed. But he noted there have been efforts to expand the scope of the federal law beyond just violent crime and some state hate-crime laws are not just limited to violent crimes, but also include acts like graffiti on a synagogue.
Kennedy spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter reiterated the fact that a hate crime has to be a violent act, under current federal law and the bill.
Mr. Kyl said ultimately the Kennedy hate-crimes bill could actually be used as a vehicle to help law enforcement fight the war on terrorism more effectively. He said Republicans could offer amendments to the bill aimed at helping law enforcement fight terrorism perhaps basing the amendments on suggestions made by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.
"You know, the biggest hate crime that has been committed against this country in half a century was the attack on September 11," Mr. Kyl said.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide