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  Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie opposes anti-lynching bill named for Emmett Till
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Last Editedev0lv  Feb 28, 2020 01:40pm
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AuthorPhillip M. Bailey
MediaNewspaper - Kentucky Courier Journal
News DateWednesday, February 26, 2020 09:10:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionU.S. Rep. Thomas Massie on Wednesday once again burnished his reputation as "Mr. No" in Congress by joining a handful of lawmakers who opposed a measure that would make lynching a federal hate crime.

Congress has tried for more than a century to pass a bill outlawing the practice, which terrorized mostly African Americans across the country in the 19th and 20th centuries. But such proposals have been repeatedly blocked or ignored.

The Emmett Till Antilynching Act, however, passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 410-4. The Senate has already passed its version of the bill.

Massie, a Kentucky Republican, joined fellow GOP lawmakers Ted Yoho, of Florida, and Louie Gohmert, of Texas, and independent Justin Amash, of Michigan, in voting against the measure.

"I voted against (the bill) because the Constitution specifies only a handful of federal crimes, and leaves the rest to individual states to prosecute," Massie told The Courier Journal on Wednesday. "In addition, this bill expands current federal 'hate crime' laws. A crime is a crime, and all victims deserve equal justice. Adding enhanced penalties for 'hate' tends to endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech."

Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, sponsored the proposal and said during Wednesday’s floor debate how it will show "race-based violence, in particular, has no place in American society."

"I cannot imagine our nation did not have any federal law against lynching when so many African Americans have been lynched," he said. "Lynching was the preferred method of the Ku Klux Klan, the preferred choice of (torturing and murdering African-Americans)."
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