WASHINGTON (Feb. 2)
A group libel law that would make it illegal ship between states, import into the United States or mail any printed or mimeographed material designed to stir up racial or religious hatred was introduced in the ?use today by a bi-partisan group of five Representatives.
Co-sponsored by Representatives Jacob K. Javits, Arthur G. Klein, Kenneth B. ?ating , William L. Dawson and Eugene J. Keogh, the measure is based on a study con?cted by the American Jewish Congress.
The bill makes it unlawful for any person “with intent to create ill will against a racial or religious group within the United States or any of its territories knowingly” to bring into the country or disseminate by mail or “by common carrier” ?y printed or mimeographed material identifying any person or group with his race or religion which exposes him or them “to hatred, contempt or obloquy or causes…him or ham to be shunned or avoided or to be injured in his or their business or occupation.”
The measure carries the provision that “no person shall be convicted under this section if such statement is true or was honestly believed by him upon reasonable grounds, to be true. The burden of coming forward with evidence upon the issues ?f truth, honest belief, reasonableness of belief and intent to create ill will shall be upon the defendant, but the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt upon the entire case shall be upon the prosecution.”
The bill makes it a misdemeanor to disseminate such literature. Any person or persons convicted under the act would be liable to not more than $1,000 fine or one ##ar imprisonment or both. As a further safeguard, the measure requires that no proceeding for violations of the act can be instituted by any district attorney without the prior approval of the Attorney-General. The prosecution of any case by a district Attorney shall be conducted under the supervision of the Attorney-General.
Congressman Klein, Javits, and Keating told a press conference that their measure was not designed to attack anti-Semitic literature alone but to safeguard Ne?goss, Catholics, Protestants and other racial or religious minority groups from scurrilous attack.