Holder Calls On Congress To Pass Hate Crimes Legislation
By Andrew Ramonas | June 16, 2022 6:07 pm

Attorney General Eric Holder urged Congress today to pass hate crimes legislation following the recent murders of a U.S. Holocaust Museum guard, Kansas abortion doctor and an Arkansas soldier.

Eric Holder

Eric Holder

In prepared remarks before the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs’ annual Wiley A. Branton awards luncheon this afternoon, Holder said it has taken “too long” for Congressional action on legislation that would streamline the prosecution of people who attack others because of their sexual orientation, gender or disabilities. The attorney general said he first testified on Capitol Hill about the need for stronger hate crimes laws when he was deputy attorney general in the Clinton Justice Department.

The House has already passed legislation strengthening hate crimes laws, and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday at a press conference that he was “committed” to passing the Senate’s version of the bill by the August recess. A hate crimes bill was first introduced almost 10 years ago after the murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard, according to Congressional Quarterly. The bill’s supporters have tried to attach it to the annual defense authorization bill since 2000, but it was always taken out before a final vote on the defense legislation, CQ said.

“The violence we have seen during the last month may seem daunting to some,” Holder said. “But I view these tragedies as a call to action.”

Holder also lauded the work of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division at the luncheon calling it the DOJ’s “crown jewel.” He said it has won or settled cases in “virtually every substantive area of civil rights law” since President Obama took office, but said there is still work to be done.

“The reconstruction and progress we seek will take years to achieve, not weeks or months,” he said. “And experience has taught us that the road to equality is long and sometimes treacherous, marked by detours and occasionally by setbacks.”


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