PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION RESOLUTION SUPPORTING LEGISLATION THAT WILL EXPAND THE JURISDICTION OF CURRENT FEDERAL HATE CRIMES LAWS

WHEREAS, the brutal murders of James Byrd, Jr. in Texas, Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, Won Joon Yoon in Indianapolis, Ricky Byrdsong in Illinois, Joseph Ileto in California and Anita Gordon in Pittsburgh are not prosecutable under federal hate crimes laws in the United States;

WHEREAS, a dozen predominately African American colleges, including Lincoln University in Chester County, PA, and 18 branches of the American Jewish Committee have been the targets of hate letters threatening "unspecified acts of violence against African Americans and Jews" (Philadelphia Inquirer 1/14/00 R-1); and

WHEREAS, the assaults against an African American family in Grays Ferry in February 1997 and continuing race-based tensions there show that Philadelphia is not immune to hate crimes (Philadelphia Inquirer 1/14/00 R-1); and

WHEREAS, ten states of the Union lack any form of hate crime penalty enhancing laws; and

WHEREAS, 39 states of the Union, including Pennsylvania, lack any penalty enhancement laws to prosecute hate crimes based on gender or sexual orientation; and

WHEREAS, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 245, enacted in 1968, prohibits intentional interference, by inter alia, bodily injury or death, or threat thereof, with the enjoyment of a federal right or benefit on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin; and

WHEREAS, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 245 fails to cover gender, sexual orientation, or disability, whether actual or perceived; and

WHEREAS, Title 18 U.S.C. Section 245 is limited to hate crimes against persons for engaging in a federally protected activity; and

WHEREAS, the Hate Crimes Penalty Enhancement Act of 1994 is limited to hate crimes committed in national parks or on federal property; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Senate has introduced the 1999 Hate Crimes Prevention Act to cover gender, sexual orientation, or disability, as well as expand the jurisdictional limits beyond federal property and federally protected activities; and

WHEREAS, the Philadelphia Bar Association adopted a resolution to amend the Pennsylvania Ethnic Intimidation Statute, 18 Pa.C.S. § 2710, to include offenses against individuals based on their sexual orientation or based on perceptions about their sexual orientation on September 26, 1991; and

WHEREAS, the Pennsylvania Assembly has not enacted the amendments to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2710;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby supports legislation that will expand the jurisdiction of current federal hate crimes laws, such as proposed by the 1999 Hate Crimes Prevention Act; and

AND BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Philadelphia Bar Association hereby authorizes its Chancellor and officers to urge the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation, its members, and other bar associations to support the spirit of this Resolution and otherwise act in accordance with this Resolution.

PHILADELPHIA BAR ASSOCIATION
BOARD OF GOVERNORS
ADOPTED: June 29, 2000