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Racist Rand and the Antilynching Act

If ever there was a perfect time to pass the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, now would be it. As daily protests are held around the world to condemn the smothering of George Floyd by a policeman while other police watched, the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan legislation 410 to 4. The Act would punish "whoever conspires with another person" to violate certain sections of the Civil Rights Act "in the same manner as a completed violation of such section".

The bill then went to the Senate, which could have passed by unanimous consent without calling the whole Senate to the floor for a roll-call vote. All that was needed was for no one to object. But Rand Paul of Kentucky would not allow this procedure because he believes Congress has more important things to focus on.

Rather than consider a good-intentioned but symbolic bill, the Senate could immediately consider addressing qualified immunity and ending police militarization.

But this is a false dilemma. In fact, it's worse than a false dilemma: It is a self-defeating strategy. Regardless of Paul's own feelings about the bill, a large bipartisan majority of both houses support it. And politics is the art of compromise. If Paul truly wanted to end police militarization—a good idea, in my opinion—he might win more colleauges to his cause by supporting their legislation. All he needed to do was not to object to this bill.

Paul also claimed the bill was overly broad. The bill does not punish the perpetrator of a hate crime; federal law already has provisions for that. Rather, this bill allows federal prosecutors to bring charges against those who conspire with the perpetrator to commit the crime.

Conspire is a legal term. The clearest definition I could find comes from Justia.

A conspiracy occurs when two or more people agree to commit an illegal act and take some step toward its completion. Conspiracy is an inchoate crime because it does not require that the illegal act actually have been completed. For instance, a group of individuals can be convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary even if the actual burglary never happens. Conspiracy is also unique in that, unlike attempt, a defendant can be charged with both conspiracy to commit a crime, and the crime itself if the crime is completed.

Paul claims it could be used to bring charges against someone in a bar altercation.

I don't think it's a good idea to conflate someone who has an altercation, where they had minor bruises, with lynching. We think that's a disservice to those who were lynched in our history, who continue to have, we continue to have these problems. And I think it's a disservice to have a new 10-year penalty for people who have minor bruising.

Paul's objection makes little sense. It's hard to imagine a scenario in which a group would gather and conspire to inflict minor bruising.

Senator Kamala Harris responded, "There is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning," noting that Paul began his filibuster on the day of George Floyd's memorial service. Harris may have been trying to be diplomatic. There is another obvious reason Paul might object to this bill, and that reason would be that he is a racist, or is pandering to racists.

It's as hard to imagine Rand Paul doesn't understand his stance at least makes him look like a racist, just as much as it's hard to imagine he doesn't understand the difference between an altercation and a conspiracy.

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