ADL has long been in the forefront of national and state efforts to deter and counteract hate crimes. Criminal activity motivated by bias is different from other criminal conduct; in a hate crime, the perpetrator attacks the victim because of a bias against the victim's actual or perceived status, such as the victim's race, religion, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability. Now, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government have enacted hate crimes laws based on (or similar to) ADL's model statute.
ADL filed a brief on behalf of 40 prominent civil rights, human rights, religious, educational, and law enforcement organizations urging the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the constitutionality of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). The brief in United States v. Milller is the first coalition brief filed in any constitutional challenge to the HCPA.
On September 19, 2012 the Senate conducted its first hearings on the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA). ADL submitted testimony hailing the Department of Justice's (DOJ) enforcement efforts, while calling on DOJ to expand its efforts to counter domestic terrorism and compile more data about hate crimes.
On August 5, 2012 alleged gunman Wade Michael Page opened fire in a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, killing six people and wounding four more. Page was a white supremacist who was well-known to the ADL and other hate-group monitors for his longtime involvement with the American racist skinhead movement.