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This research was made possible in part through a Specter Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University


Bias-motivated violence is considered especially heinous in the United States of America. This research examines the Federal legislation that cements that value into law. Hate crimes are criminal acts where the target was specifically chosen because of their race, sexual orientation, gender expression, ethnicity, or religion. These crimes, whether intentionally or not, have a ripple effect on societal values, and especially spread fear within oppressed minority groups. This research begins by examining the context that precipitated a need for hate crime laws to begin with and then looks at federal developments as a reaction to landmark hate crime cases. One of Senator Arlen Specter’s key areas of policy impact lies right here in hate crimes. Through means of the Arlen Specter Senatorial Papers his contributions in both Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania are explored. Finally, the debate over hate crime legislation as it exists today is had. This research is expected to analyze bias motivated crime through a contextualizing historical lens of Arlen Specter’s work and then use that analysis to work through the current debate over legislation.