Businesses Might Not Be Allowed to Ask About Applicant's Criminal History Under Democrats' New 'Justice' Plan


Suddenly, the world is upside down.

All whites are racist, all cops are villains out to kill blacks and those entering the country illegally are to be welcomed and coddled.

Democratic Reps. David Trone of Maryland and Maxine Waters of California have introduced a bill that would preclude a business from conducting a criminal background check on a prospective employee in order to remain eligible for a grant under the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program.

H.R. 1598, the “Workforce Justice Act of 2021,” is a proposed amendment to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

Perhaps the most breathtaking feature of this bill is the unmistakable disconnect between its purpose and the death of the young man the JAG program was established to honor.

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Edward “Eddie” Byrne was a 22-year-old New York Police Department officer who was gunned down in the line of duty.

He had always dreamed of being a NYPD cop. His father was NYPD. And, after Byrne’s murder, his younger brothers carried on the family tradition.

Byrne had been assigned to protect a witness who would be testifying in an upcoming trial against local drug dealers. He was parked outside the witness’ home in February 1988 at 3:30 a.m. when two armed killers approached his car on all sides and shot him dead. Two other men served as lookouts. “The four assailants … were members of a gang who had been instructed by a jailed drug kingpin to kill a police officer.”

The JAG program, as described on the DOJ’s website, “allows states and local governments to support a broad range of activities to prevent and control crime and to improve the justice system.”

According to the DOJ, this program “is the leading federal source of criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. … [T]he JAG Program provides states, territories, tribes, and local governments with critical funding necessary to support a range of program areas including law enforcement; prosecution and court; prevention and education; corrections and community corrections; drug treatment and enforcement; planning, evaluation, and technology improvement; crime victim and witness initiatives; and mental health programs and related law enforcement and corrections programs, including behavioral programs and crisis intervention teams.”

The National Pulse’s Natalie Winters managed to track down the new version of this elusive bill.

The latest version of H.R. 1598 introduces an “eligibility” clause.

‘‘Beginning with the third fiscal year that begins after the date of the enactment of the Workforce Justice Act of 2021, to be eligible for an allocation under this section, a State shall have enacted and be implementing legislation that prohibits private employers from —

‘‘(A) requiring an applicant to disclose whether the applicant has a criminal record;

‘‘(B) inquiring about the criminal record of an applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment; and

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‘‘(C) conducting a criminal background check on an applicant prior to a conditional offer of employment.’’

So, in order for a business to be eligible for a justice assistance grant, they may not require an applicant to tell them about their criminal record nor may they even inquire about it before making a job offer. Additionally, they may not conduct a criminal background check.

It should be noted that this bill is coming to us from the same people who are fighting for the expansion of background checks on those who purchase certain gun accessories.

At any rate, the sheer lunacy of adding this prerequisite to a grant program, particularly one that bears the name of a young man who was murdered by gang members to prevent a witness from testifying in court, boggles the mind.

Do those who have been convicted of crimes and have served their time deserve a second chance? Of course, they do.

But should a convicted pedophile manage a children’s program? Is it a good idea to hire an individual with a long record of DWI offenses to drive a bus? Should a former drug addict with a history of frequent relapses run a methadone clinic? How about hiring a convicted bank robber to handle your organization’s cash?

An employer needs to know an employee’s past criminal history in the same way they need to know their work history.

Do you believe it would be dangerous to hire an employee without conducting a background check?

Employers should absolutely know who is working for them. Even people manning a cash register have access to hundreds of dollars at a time, as well as a constant stream of customer credit cards.

Businesses should not only be able to vet people who want to work for them, but should also have the ability to say “no” should an applicant’s criminal past make them a poor fit for the job.

A knee-jerk reaction to this proposed legislation might be to think that Democrats lack even the most basic common sense.

But then we realize they’re just adding another notch to their belt which in due time they’ll use to whip us into submission.

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Elizabeth writes commentary for The Western Journal and The Washington Examiner. Her articles have appeared on many websites, including MSN, RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist and RealClearPolitics. Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Elizabeth is a contract writer at The Western Journal. Her articles have appeared on many conservative websites including RedState, Newsmax, The Federalist,, HotAir, MSN and RealClearPolitics.

Please follow Elizabeth on Twitter.