Rep. Amash among 4 lawmakers to vote against anti-lynching bill

Feb 27, 2020 at 11:40 am
click to enlarge U.S. Rep. Justin Amash speaking with attendees at the 2017 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention. - Gage Skidmore
Gage Skidmore
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash speaking with attendees at the 2017 Young Americans for Liberty National Convention.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, of Michigan, was among four members of Congress to vote against a bill Wednesday that would make lynching a federal hate crime.

By a 410-4 vote, the House approved the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, named after the 14-year-old African American boy who was kidnapped, beaten, and lynched in 1955.

Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert, Thomas Massie, and Ted Yoho also voted against the bill, which federal lawmakers have been trying to pass since at least 1900.

The U.S. Senate is expected to approve the bill, which will require President Donald Trump’s signature.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who introduced the bill in January 2019, said the measure finally outlaws “an American evil.”

"Today, we send a strong message that violence — and race-based violence, in particular — has no place in America," Rush said in a statement.

Between 1882 and 1962, 3,446 Black people were lynched in the U.S., according to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

The bill, Rush said, will belatedly deliver justice to lynching victims.

Amash said he voted no because lynching is already illegal on the federal level and that the authority of filing criminal charges should belong to the state.

“Creating federal crimes for matters that are normally handled by the state obscures which government — federal or state — is responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime, and it gives power to unelected federal officials whom voters can’t directly hold accountable,” Amash tweeted. “This allows state officials who don’t adequately address particular crimes to shift blame and avoid accountability. At the same time, it creates an incentive for budget-constrained state and local governments not to prosecute crimes and instead leave it to the feds.”

Amash's office didn't respond to Metro Times' request for an interview.

Rep. Don Bacon, a Republican from Nebraska, said the bill is important because it sends a long-delayed message about the evils of lynching.

“Today’s vote is a historical one that acknowledges the evil of the 5,000 lynchings in our nation’s history; the fear that African-Americans felt in their homes and communities; and will help with healing and reconciliation,” Bacon says in a news release.

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