Scott introduces bipartisan bill to make lynching a federal hate crime

Lynching would be deemed a federal hate crime under a bipartisan bill introduced on Monday by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC).

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, S. 3710, which Sen. Scott cosponsored on Feb. 28 with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), would amend U.S. Code to state that anyone who conspires to commit any lynching offense that causes death or serious bodily injury would be imprisoned for not more than 30 years, fined, or both, according to the text of the bill. 

“While we cannot erase our nation’s past, we can work toward a better future for all Americans,” Sen. Scott said. “The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act will do just that. This long-overdue piece of legislation sends a clear message: We will not tolerate hatred and violence against our fellow Americans.”

S. 3710 is named after Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy who was lynched in 1955. A related bill — the  Emmett Till and Will Brown Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2021, H.R. 1727 — was introduced in March 2021 by U.S. Reps. Don Bacon (R-NE) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) to establish a new criminal civil rights violation for lynching.

In February 2019, Sen. Scott, Sen. Booker, and then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) led unanimous passage of an earlier version of the bill, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019, S. 488, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, but the bill stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I am proud to introduce this legislation to help us acknowledge the pain caused by lynchings and make the shameful practice a federal crime,” said Sen. Booker. “Although this bill will not undo the terror and fear of the past, it’s a necessary step that our nation must take to move forward.”

S. 3710 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.