University of Chicago Legal Forum


As white supremacist violence has substantially increased over the last two decades, calls to combat associated attacks have intensified. This Comment outlines the impact of the events of September 11, 2001 on domestic and international terrorism policy, contextualizing the subsequent invocation of international terrorism charges at significantly higher rates than those of domestic terrorism. It introduces the lack of a general criminal statute prohibiting acts of terrorism and discusses the issues associated with the varying definitions of domestic terrorism employed by the federal government.

Due to the lack of common terminology in referencing domestic terrorism, a number of white supremacists who have crossed state borders to commit violent acts are prosecuted under federal hate crime and firearm laws. This lack of a consistent definition offers a corrigible reason why white supremacist organizations and supporters have largely circumvented prosecution under domestic terrorism charges. To properly address and regulate the interstate travel of individuals to commit white nationalist violence, the existing domestic terrorism statutory framework must be applied vigorously. This Comment argues that a consistent definition of “domestic terrorism” should be employed at the federal level in order to ensure that the statutory framework is enforced against perpetrators of such violent crimes. It ultimately concludes that a strengthened framework could lead to the regulation and subsequent prosecution of white supremacists who cross state lines to commit violent acts.

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