May 11 2023
WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) joined Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and more than 20 Senate Republican colleagues today in introducing the Back the Blue Act, which would increase penalties for criminals who target law enforcement officers and provide new tools for officers to protect themselves.
“Louisiana’s law enforcement heroes risk their lives for our communities every day, and vicious criminals too often target these officers because of their service. Supporting law enforcement means punishing the violent people who mean them harm and defending the freedoms that help these officers keep themselves and others safe,” said Kennedy.
“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to serve families across Texas. Violent criminals who target those who protect our communities should face swift and tough penalties, and the Back the Blue Act sends that clear message,” said Cornyn.
Background on the Back the Blue Act:
The bill would strengthen laws to protect police officers by creating new federal crimes for:
- Killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer or federally funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to the death penalty and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years if death results. The offender would otherwise face a minimum sentence of 10 years.
- Assaulting a federally funded law enforcement officer with escalating penalties, including mandatory minimums, based on the extent of any injury and the use of a dangerous weapon. No prosecution could begin without certification from the attorney general that prosecution is appropriate.
- Interstate flight from justice to avoid prosecution for killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a federal judge, federal law enforcement officer or federally funded public safety officer. The offender would be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years for this offense.
The bill would create a specific aggravating factor for federal death penalty prosecutions by clarifying that the murder or attempted murder of a law enforcement officer or first responder is a statutory aggravating factor for purposes of the federal death penalty.
The bill would limit federal habeas relief for criminals who murder law enforcement officers. It would impose time limits and substantive limits on federal courts’ review of challenges to state-court convictions for crimes involving the murder of a public safety officer when the public safety officer was engaged in the performance of official duties or on account of the performance of official duties. These changes are consistent with the fast-track procedures created in 1996, which are applied to federal death penalty cases.
The bill would expand self-defense and Second Amendment rights for law enforcement officers by allowing them, subject to limited regulation, to carry firearms into federal facilities and other jurisdictions where such possession is otherwise prohibited.