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Tipsheet

Such a Bill on 'White Supremacy' Could Only Come From a Member Like Sheila Jackson Lee

Mary F. Calvert

Last week, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced a bill that was so absurd it had people asking if it was real. As evidenced by its page on congress.gov, and also given the kind of member that Jackson Lee is, it is in fact real.

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The bill in question, H.R. 61, also known as the "Leading Against White Supremacy Act of 2023," seeks to "amend title 18, United States Code, to expand the scope of hate crimes." It would criminalize the "conspiracy to commit white supremacy," that is directed against non-white people.

This includes "inspir[ing]" or influencing people to commit such a crime based on having "published material advancing white supremacy, white supremacist ideology, antagonism based on “replacement theory”, or hate speech that vilifies or is otherwise directed against any non-White person or group." Material published on social media platforms is mentioned as well. 

While the bill's text mentions the Department of Justice (DOJ), the DOJ website already has a section on "HATE CRIME PROSECUTIONS." The role of the DOJ is also relevant and potentially concerning in that the Biden administration has reportedly pressured the FBI to over inflate the amount of domestic terror cases and incidents of white supremacy. 

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This bill isn't likely to go anywhere in a House now controlled by the Republican Party, though it still speaks to the priorities of members like Rep. Jackson Lee. 

Our friends at Twitchy highlighted some of the best responses to Ian Miles Cheong's screenshot of the bill, including when it comes to concerns with the First Amendment. Further, other users have wondered what it means when attacks on blacks, such as black conservatives, don't come from white people as a matter of "white supremacy," but from other black people. 

The congresswoman has responded to criticisms about the law by hitting back at a fellow member, Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO). In a thread that includes over a dozen tweets, Rep. Jackson Lee sought to try to defend her bill, and brought the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy into the discussion. 

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While Jackson Lee strongly mocks Boebert's description of the bill, it's worth reminding that another person who has pointed to concerns about the First Amendment include Harmeet K. Dhillon, who is an attorney. 

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