A bill introduced in October by Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) would ban racial profiling by law enforcement officials, including neighborhood watch groups.
Cardin and Durbin said the case could help Democrats win support for the bill, which currently has only 13 Democratic co-sponsors.
“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, you know that you have a problem in this country with racial profiling,” Cardin said at a press conference after the hearing. “Quite frankly, the Trayvon Martin case has put a national spotlight on this, and the American public were outraged with what they saw.”
Still, only one Republican from the committee — Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) — appeared at Tuesday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The five lawmakers who testified were all Democrats.
Questions from Graham, which focused primarily on how counterterrorism activities would be affected by the bill, drew hisses from some attendees.
The ranking member ended his questioning abruptly, pledging to work with Cardin in search of “something more bipartisan.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.