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 victi 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.
The based-broad coalition of civil rights, religious, law enforcement, educational, civic, and professional organizations that worked for more than a decade to help secure enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA) in 2009, has prepared an ambitious list of programs and initiatives for Congress and the Administration to mark the fifth anniversary of the HCPA, on October 28, 2014.
The anniversary provides an important teachable moment for advocates, the Administration, and Congress to promote awareness of the HCPA, to report on the progress our nation has made in preventing hate violence, and to rededicate ourselves and our nation to effectively responding to bias crimes when they occur.
In the letter, the hate crime coalition developed a list of programs, events, and education, outreach, and training initiatives which they offered as suggested useful activities for the White House, other Federal officials, and Congress to undertake in commemorating, celebrating, and restating our national commitment to stop hate violence.
The groups also recalled President Obama and Attorney General Holder's great leadership in securing the passage of the HCPA after advocates had lobbied for it for more than a decade.
On July 21, ADL submitted comments in support of the Department of Education’s (DoE) proposed changes to improve the response of campus officials to hate crimes and sexual assaults. The Clery Act of 1990 mandates that colleges and universities report a wide array of crime statistics, including hate crimes. The 2013 reauthorization of VAWA required DoE to propose expanded hate crime data collection categories and provide guidance for colleges and universities to be more transparent in their policies, procedures, and notification of the campus community about crime prevention and awareness programs.
On August 27, a divided Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati reversed the convictions of a number of individuals in a case filed under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (HCPA)
In this case, United States v. Miller, the leader of an Old Order Amish sect in central eastern Ohio in 2011 ordered followers to violently cut the hair and beards of people who had rebelled against his teachings. Beards and hair are sacred symbols of religious identity to the Amish. Evidence from the trial showed that the defendants believed that the victims had “strayed from the true path” and had acted because the victims disobeyed the edicts of Samuel Mullet, Sr., the self-appointed leader.
Though the court’s 2-1 majority declined to strike down the HCPA (as defendants had asked them to do), it did reverse the hate crime convictions, asserting that the standards of proof the judge and jury below had used were too broad. The case was sent back to the lower court for new proceedings.