The Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 (H.R.7691), which provides $40.1 billion for “appropriations for defense equipment, migration and refugee assistance, regulatory and technical support regarding nuclear power issues, emergency food assistance, economic assistance, and seizures of property related to the invasion,” that is, for U.S. defense contractors, recently passed the Senate by a vote of 86–11 and the House by a vote of 368–57. President Biden signed it into law on May 21.
Every one of the negative votes was cast by a Republican, but unfortunately, that was not enough to overcome the affirmative vote of every Democratic member of the House and Senate, along with 149 Republicans in the House and 39 in the Senate. Even Barbara Lee of California, the staunch anti-war Democrat who cast the lone no vote in 2001 on the authorization to use military force in Afghanistan, voted yes.
Does this mean that the House and Senate have a growing number of anti-war isolationists? Of course not. If a Republican occupied the White House and pushed for legislation providing military aid to Ukraine, there is no telling how these Republicans would have voted. They are, after all, Republicans. How quickly Americans forget that only six Republicans in the House and one in the Senate voted against the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.
But not even two months before Biden signed the Ukraine assistance bill into law, most of the same allegedly heroic Republicans who are being cheered by libertarians, populists, and grassroots conservatives for their principled stance in opposing the bill, voted against the Constitution, federalism, and the limited government of the Founders.
After almost 200 attempts over a 120-year period, Congress passed a law to make lynching a federal hate crime.
Most recently, two bills in the 116th Congress (2019–2021) that would have made lynching a federal crime died at the end of the congressional term. The Justice for Victims of Lynching Act of 2019 (S.488) passed without amendment in the Senate but was never voted on in the House. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R.35) passed without amendment in the House by a vote of 410–4 on February 26, 2020, but it also never became law.
On March 29 of this year, however, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act (H.R.55, PL No: 117-107) was signed into law by President Biden. It passed in the Senate without amendment by unanimous consent on March 7 after it passed in the House by a vote of 422–3 on February 28. Only three Republicans voted against it: Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Chip Roy of Texas, and Andrew Clyde of Georgia. (Massie also voted against the previous version, Roy voted for it, and Clyde was not yet a member of Congress.)
The relevant text of the bill states:
Section 249(a) of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding
at the end the following:
“(5) Lynching.–Whoever conspires to commit any offense
under paragraph (1), (2), or (3) shall, if death or serious
bodily injury (as defined in section 2246 of this title) results
from the offense, be imprisoned for not more than 30 years,
fined in accordance with this title, or both.
“(6) Other conspiracies.–Whoever conspires to commit any
offense under paragraph (1), (2), or (3) shall, if death or
serious bodily injury (as defined in section 2246 of this title)
results from the offense, or if the offense includes kidnapping
or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt
to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, be
imprisoned for not more than 30 years, fined in accordance with
this title, or both.”.
In a statement, Rep. Roy called lynching “an unspeakably heinous crime” but added that “this bill doesn’t have anything to do with lynching.” He called it “an effort to advance a woke agenda under the guise of correcting racial injustice.”
Rep. Massie explained on Twitter why he voted against the bill:
(1) The Constitution specifies only a handful of federal crimes, and leaves the rest to individual states to prosecute.
(2) 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.
(3) Lynching a person is already illegal in every state. Passing this legislation falsely implies that lynching someone does not already constitute criminal activity.
(4) The bill creates another federal crime of “conspiracy,” which I’m concerned could be enforced overbroadly on people who are not perpetrators of a crime.
The last time I checked, lynching, even if not explicitly called lynching, is illegal in every state, and has been for many years. Making lynching a federal hate crime will likely result in more absurdities like the recent case of three white men who were sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years in Georgia for the murder of a black man and then were subsequently convicted in federal court of hate crimes.
The Constitution mentions only three crimes: treason, piracy, and counterfeiting—lynching someone because you hate him is not one of them. Because lynching is a crime, it is subject to the police power of the states just like the crimes of murder, rape, armed robbery, burglary, and running a stop sign.
Although lynching is a heinous crime that should be severely punished, it cannot be made a federal crime without lynching the Constitution. The fact that only three Republicans in the House had enough sense (and enough fortitude) to vote against the Emmett Till Antilynching Act shows what members of Congress really think about the Constitution, federalism, and the limited government of the Founders.