By Emily Finkelstein
Congressman Jerry Nadler should propose a bill to implement a federal hate crime registry. According to a report issued by the New York City Police Department, hate crimes in New York City increased by sixty four percent between 2018 and 2019.[i] Individuals of Asian descent have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the rise in hate crimes.[ii] While Congressman Nadler is the frontrunner for the upcoming NY-10 Congressional Election, opponents and critics of the Representative have suggested that he leverages his time and influence to advance the democratic party’s agenda, rather than issues relevant to congressional district NY-10. [iii] Congressman Nadler has been outspoken about the troubling rise in hate crimes throughout our country. [iv] The proposed bill would allow Congressman Nadler to directly address the hate crimes which are plaguing his district, while remaining a strong congressional influence for the democratic party on a national scale. It is critical for Congressman Nadler to balance the needs of his district with the national democratic agenda in order to write effective policy and remain in office next election cycle.
The proposed bill will aim to diminish the rising number of hate crimes occurring in the Congressman’s district, and throughout the nation. Consistent with national trends, Congressman Nadler’s district, NY-10, experienced an unprecedented number of hate crimes over the last several years.[v] Individuals of Asian and Jewish descent have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the rise in hate crimes. With 24.4% of constituents identifying as Jewish, and 18.6% identifying as Asian, NY-10 residents are acutely aware of the issues plaguing our nation, and more specifically, their communities.[vi] Jewish and Asian voters are largely democratic, and, thus, critical to the Representative’s support base.[vii] As such, it is imperative for Congressman Nadler to address the growing number of hate crimes motivated by racial and religious bias. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice reported that 16.7% of all hate crimes were motivated by bias against sexual orientation.[viii] New York City, home to district NY-10, has the highest number of residents who identify as LGBTQ+ in the country. [ix] Moreover, based on past elections and voter registration numbers, it is clear that NY-10 has largely democrat voters.[x] According to a poll on Important Issues in the 2020 election by Pew Research Center, 76% of U.S. registered democratic voters consider ‘race and ethnic inequality’ to be a very important issue; and 60% of registered democratic voters consider ‘gun policy’ to be a very important issue.[xi] The proposed bill addresses race and ethnic inequality by signaling to Americans that hateful, and biased actions against protected classes will not be tolerated. The bill also seeks to assert that those who engage in hateful or biased actions will be stripped of their second amendment right, in the fear that they may unjustly inflict harm on fellow citizens. While Congressman Nadler receives a majority of his donations from individual small and mid-sized donors, he has received funds from human rights lobbyist groups.[xii] The proposed bill advances the agenda of these groups by preventing hate crimes and may compel them to provide additional donations. It is important to note that Congressman Nadler does not currently receive donations from the NRA lobby, or the Police Union, both of which are powerful lobbying groups who may object to this policy proposal.[xiii]
Other interest groups, such as New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) may oppose the bill. NYCLU has long been vehemently opposed to the sex offender registry and has argued that there is no evidence that such registry protects victims from crimes. The NYCLU has argued that it is inappropriate to broadly disseminate private information. For that reason, I would suggest that the proposed hate crime registry only be available to relevant parties such as authorized firearm retailers and law enforcement. [xiv]
The proposed bill seeks to diminish the number of hate crimes by implementing a federal hate crime registry that would be used to prevent individuals convicted of such crimes from: 1.) maintaining or obtaining employment with law enforcement; and 2.) purchasing a firearm in any state. Congressman Nadler has a demonstrated history of supporting legislation that seeks to diminish hate crimes. Congressman co-sponsored H.R. 2708, the Disarm Hate Act (introduced), which prohibits individuals who have been convicted of a misdemeanor-level hate crime from either purchasing or possessing a gun.[xv] Additionally, Congressman co-sponsored H.R. 7120 – George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (passed the House with bipartisan support), which seeks to implement a nationwide police misconduct registry, which would prevent police officers with problematic records from accepting employment with law enforcement in another jurisdiction.[xvi] Presently, states have varying degrees of civil penalties for those who commit hate crimes.[xvii] There are three states which do not have any hate crime statutes. [xviii] In order to be effective in reducing hate crimes in the nation, states must coordinate their efforts around hate crime prevention. If states fail to coordinate, an individual who commits malicious, hateful acts may purchase a weapon in a state with less stringent laws. The proposed bill seeks to create a federal hate crime registry and would codify hate crime laws across states. Other bills which seek to combat the rise of hateful nationalism in our country have been introduced at the State and Federal levels; such bills propose long-term solutions to the problem. H.R.223 – Hate Crime Victim Assistance Act of 2019 (introduced), for example, seeks to provide education and training programs to prevent hate crimes. [xix] These solutions, while thoughtful and important, do not address the immediate issue: individuals who identify as Asian, Jewish, Black, Hispanic, immigrant, who identify as LGBTQ+ or any other historically are in danger, and need immediate protection.
As the chairman of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Congressman Nadler is well-positioned to propose a bill which not only combines aspects from the aforementioned bills and solutions, but would add a fourth, integral component of a hate crime registry. The registry would prevent individuals with a propensity to engage in hateful, biased conduct from being offered positions in which they may abuse their power in law enforcement. Research shows that hate crimes are often underreported. [xx] The hate crime registry would be a mandated screening tool for law enforcement hiring; wherein no individual listed in the registry may either obtain or maintain employment with law enforcement. The registry would list individuals’ names, the nature of their crime and bias type, and would assign them a level (1 – 3; level 1 defined as a “criminal offense against a person or property resulting in a misdemeanor; level 2 defined as a “criminal offense against a person or property resulting in a felony”, and level 3 defined as “more than one criminal offense against a person or property resulting in a misdemeanor or felony.”) Individuals who are assigned level 1 may be removed from the registry after five years with hate crime prevention training; individuals who are assigned level 2 may appeal to be removed from the registry after five years and completion of hate crime prevention training; and individuals assigned level 3 must take hate crime prevention training may not be removed from the registry unless their conviction is overturned.
Emily Finkelstein is a part-time MPA-PNP student. She is passionate about disability rights, educational equity, health justice and the intersection between the three areas. She works as a Social Impact Consultant.
[i] “Reports – Hate Crimes – NYPD – NYC.gov.” https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/stats/reports-analysis/hate-crimes.page. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[ii] “Reports – Hate Crimes – NYPD – NYC.gov.”
https://www1.nyc.gov/site/nypd/stats/reports-analysis/hate-crimes.page. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
(Hate Crimes up 100% in New York City This Year, Driven by Crimes Against the Asian Community, Police Say, 2021)
[iii] “Nadler Clashes With Challengers Over Record in NY1 Debate.” 17 Jun. 2020, https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/politics/2020/06/18/nyc-elections-2020-whos-running-jerry-nadler-debate-upper-west-side-borough-park. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[iv] “Chairman Nadler Opening Statement for the Hearing on Hate ….” 9 Apr. 2019, https://nadler.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=393873. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[v] “Why have anti-Semitic hate crimes risen in New York? | CSNY.” 29 Jan. 2020, https://www.cityandstateny.com/articles/politics/ask-experts/why-have-anti-semitic-risen-new-york.html. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[vi] “National Profile of the Jewish Electorate in 2020 – Jewish ….” https://www.jewishelectorateinstitute.org/national-profile-of-the-jewish-electorate-in-2020/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[vii] “National Profile of the Jewish Electorate in 2020 – Jewish ….” https://www.jewishelectorateinstitute.org/national-profile-of-the-jewish-electorate-in-2020/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[viii] “Learn About Hate Crimes | HATECRIMES | Department of ….” https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/learn-about-hate-crimes. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[ix] “New York Has The Highest Number Of LGBT Residents, But ….” 27 Mar. 2015, https://genprogress.org/new-york-has-the-highest-number-of-lgbt-residents-but-san-francisco-has-the-highest-percentage/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[x] “New York’s 10th Congressional District election, 2020 ….” https://ballotpedia.org/New_York%27s_10th_Congressional_District_election,_2020. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xi] “Important issues in the 2020 election | Pew Research Center.” 13 Aug. 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2020/08/13/important-issues-in-the-2020-election/. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xii] “Rep. Jerrold Nadler – OpenSecrets.” https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00000939. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xiii] “Rep. Jerrold Nadler – OpenSecrets.” https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00000939. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xiv] Legislative Memo: In Relation to Information Provided about Sex Offenders. (n.d.). New York Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.nyclu.org/en/legislation/legislative-memo-relation-information-provided-about-sex-offenders
[xv] “HR 2708 – Disarm Hate Act – Congress.gov.” https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2708. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xvi] “H.R.7120 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): George Floyd ….” https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7120. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xvii] “Laws and Policies | HATECRIMES | Department of Justice.” https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/laws-and-policies. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xviii] “Laws and Policies | HATECRIMES | Department of Justice.” https://www.justice.gov/hatecrimes/laws-and-policies. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xix] “H.R.223 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Hate Crime Victim ….” https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/223. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.
[xx] “National Crime Victimization Survey – Office for Victims of Crime.” https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/ncvrw2018/info_flyers/fact_sheets/2018NCVRW_CrimeTrends_508_QC.pdf. Accessed 19 Oct. 2020.