A congressman from Northern Kentucky was among four representatives who voted against a measure to designate lynching as a federal hate crime.
Rep. Thomas Massie, the Republican from Kentucky’s 4th district, said he voted against H.R. 35 because adding “enhanced penalties” for hate crimes “tends to endanger other liberties such as freedom of speech.”
"Number one, it’s unnecessary. Number two, it’s unconstitutional, and number three — and this may be the most important point — I believe that all victims are deserving of equal justice," Massie told WCPO. "I do not believe that we should elevate the rights of some victims on what the judge or the jury thinks was going through the mind of the person who committed the crime. That is irrelevant to the victim who is suffering.”
The bill, introduced by Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush, comes 120 years after Congress first considered anti-lynching legislation. H.R. 35 is named for 14-year-old Emmett Till, who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955.
The House approved the measure 410-4 Wednesday. Representatives Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) also voted against the bill.
President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill, which the Senate unanimously passed last year.