The Community Relations Service (CRS) was established by Title X of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C 2000g et seq.). The mandate reads:
§ 2000g. Establishment of Service; Director of Service; appointment, term; personnel
There is hereby established in and as part of the Department of [Justice] a Community Relations Service (hereinafter referred to as the "Service"), which shall be headed by a Director who shall be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate for a term of four years. The Director is authorized to appoint, subject to the civil service laws and regulations, such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Service to carry out its functions and duties, and to fix their compensation in accordance with chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of Title 5.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, on July 2, 1964. He was surrounded by Civil Rights leaders and champions of the legislation, including Dr. Martin Luther King.
§ 2000g-1. Functions of Service
It shall be the function of the Service to provide assistance to communities and persons therein in resolving disputes, disagreements, or difficulties relating to discriminatory practices based on race, color, or national origin which impair the rights of persons in such communities under the Constitution or laws of the United States or which affect or may affect interstate commerce. The Service may offer its services in cases of such disputes, disagreements, or difficulties whenever, in its judgement, peaceful relations among the citizens of the community involved are threatened thereby, and it may offer its services either upon its own motion or upon the request of an appropriate State or local official or other interested person.
§ 2000g-2. Cooperation with other agencies; conciliation assistance in confidence and without publicity; information as confidential; restriction on performance of investigative or prosecution functions; violations and penalties
(a) The Service shall, whenever possible, in performing its functions, seek and utilize the cooperation of appropriate State or local, public, or private agencies.
(b) The activities of all officers and employees of the Service in providing conciliation assistance shall be conducted in confidence and without publicity, and the Service shall hold confidential any information acquired in the regular performance of its duties upon the understanding that it would be so held. No officer or employee of the Service shall engage in the performance of investigative or prosecuting functions of any department or agency in any litigation arising out of a dispute in which he acted on behalf of the Service. Any officer or other employee of the Service, who shall make public in any manner whatever any information in violation of this subsection, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year.
§ 2000g-3. Reports to Congress
Subject to the provisions of sections 2000a-4 and 2000g-2(b) of this title, the Director shall, on or before January 31 of each year, submit to the Congress a report of the activities of the Service during the preceding fiscal year.
Pub.L 88-352, Title X, § 1001(a)- 1004, July 2, 1964, 78 Stat. 267; Pub.L. 95-624, § 5, Nov. 9, 1978, 92 Stat. 3462. Legislative History. 1964 U.S. Code Cong. And Adm. News, p. history and purpose of Pub.L. 88-352, see 2355.
In 2009, with the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, CRS' mandate expanded to include new jurisdictions that represent communities whose members have frequently been the victims of hate crimes, but were not protected under the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Excerpts from the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act
Division E of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (P.L. 111-84, 2009)
§ 4706. Authorization For Additional Personnel To Assist State, Local, And Tribal Law Enforcement.
There are authorized to be appropriated to the Department of Justice, including the Community Relations Service, for fiscal years 2010, 2011, and 2012 such sums as are necessary to increase the number of personnel to prevent and respond to alleged violations of section 249 of title 18, United States Code, as added by section 4707 of this division.
President Barack Obama standing on-stage with Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard (left), and Louvon Harris and Betty Byrd Boatner, sisters of James Byrd, Jr. (right), during his remarks at a reception commemorating the enactment of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in the East Room of the White House, October 28, 2009. (Credit: Official White House photo/ Chuck Kennedy)
§ 4707. Prohibition of certain hate crime acts, defines hates crimes as including:
(a) In General.- Chapter 13 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:
“Sec. 249. Hate Crime Acts
“(a) In General.—
“(1) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN.— Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, or national origin of any person—
“(A) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and
“(B) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if—
“(i) death results from the offense; or
“(ii) the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.
“(2) OFFENSES INVOLVING ACTUAL OR PERCEIVED RELIGION, NATIONAL ORIGIN, GENDER, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR DISABILITY.—
(A) IN GENERAL.— Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph
(B) or paragraph (3), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person—
“(ii) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if—
“(I) death results from the offense; or
“(II) the offense includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.