Hate-Crime Bill's Effect on War Eyed; Kyl Warns of Racial Interpretation Hindering Battle against terrorism.(NATION)

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 7, 2002 | Go to article overview

Hate-Crime Bill's Effect on War Eyed; Kyl Warns of Racial Interpretation Hindering Battle against terrorism.(NATION)


Byline: Amy Fagan, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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.

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