Press Release

ADL Hails Fourth Circuit Court Decision Upholding Constitutionality of Hate Crimes Prevention Act

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New York, NY, June 13, 2019… ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today welcomed the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upholding the constitutionality of the landmark federal hate crime legislation, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act (HCPA), as applied in the case of an Amazon worker who was targeted because of his perceived sexual orientation.

"Today represents an important victory in the ongoing fight against bias and hate-motivated crimes here in the U.S.,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. “The HCPA – the most important, comprehensive, and inclusive federal hate crime enforcement law passed in more than 40 years – was specifically intended to address bias-motivated crimes like this one.”

In its brief to the court, ADL joined with coalition partners in asserting that “violent discrimination has immediate and aggregate economic effects, especially at work.”  The court correctly understood that in this case, the victim – who was packaging and shipping orders from an Amazon facility – was clearly engaged in the kind of economic activity that Congress can regulate.

“The Fourth Circuit’s affirmation of the viability of the HCPA is particularly significant at a time of increasing concern about bias-motivated conduct in our country,” said Greenblatt. “While most hate crimes will appropriately continue to be prosecuted at the state level, only 31 states and the District of Columbia currently have hate crime laws that include sexual orientation.  That underscores not only the importance of effective Department of Justice enforcement and implementation of the HCPA, but also our imperative as a society to address discrimination and bias crimes against the LGBTQ community at the state level in a more comprehensive way.”