Rand Paul Delays Anti-Lynching Bill, Saying He Fears It Could Be Used in Cases of “Minor Bruises”

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has delayed anti-lynching legislation, saying “there has to be some give and take” on the measure’s language.

“We want the bill to be stronger. We think that lynching is an awful thing that should be roundly condemned and should be universally condemned. I don’t think it’s a good idea to conflate someone who has an altercation where they had minor bruises, with lynching,” Paul said.

“If you’re gonna call something an anti-lynching bill, but you’re gonna have a new conspiracy charge for someone who has minor bruising, we don’t think that’s appropriate. And someone has to read these bills and make sure they do what they say they’re going to do rather than it be just a big PR effort,” Paul added.

When members of the press asked for clarification on what Paul meant by “minor bruises” and requested he spotlight specific language he wishes to see removed, Paul’s office referred to one of his statements.

Paul’s statement reads: “The bill as written would allow altercations resulting in a cut, abrasion, bruise, or any other injury no matter how temporary to be subject to a 10-year penalty. My amendment would simply apply a serious bodily injury standard, which would ensure crimes resulting in substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain be prosecuted as a lynching.”

Paul’s aides said he’d objected to the measure’s language in recent weeks but that his concerns were sidelined because of the coronavirus pandemic. The current delay comes during an especially tense moment as protests rage across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis and whose killing sent shockwaves around the world.