While the Senate Judiciary Committee has the reputation of being one of the most partisan committees in Congress, Thom has also focused on finding common ground and has secured a number of key accomplishments that benefit North Carolinians.

Protecting Second Amendment Rights and keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals

Thom played a major role in writing and passing the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), legislation that prevents violence while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners.

The BSCA focuses on significantly enhancing school safety across the nation and improving mental health by investing in programs that have been proven to significantly reduce ER visits, homelessness, and imprisonment among individuals with mental health issues.

The BSCA also requires states that have or plan to implement crisis intervention order programs to implement guardrails that protect the due process rights of their citizens, including both pre-and post-deprivation rights that include the right to an in-person hearing, unbiased adjudicators, knowledge of opposing evidence, the right to present evidence, and the right to confront adverse witnesses.

Confirming Well-Qualified Judges

The Judiciary Committee’s primary responsibility is filling federal judiciary vacancies. During President Trump’s term, Thom was on the frontlines to help remake the federal judiciary by confirming 234 judges, including three new Supreme Court Justices – Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh is one of the most eminently qualified individuals to be nominated to serve on the Supreme Court in recent memory. He has spent the last decade serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals, earning a reputation for being a mainstream and fair-minded jurist with excellent judicial temperament. He will be an outstanding Supreme Court justice.

Senator Thom Tillis

Fighting to reduce the national rape kit backlog

According to estimates, there is a backlog of hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits, which in turn can deny justice for sexual assault victims. In North Carolina alone, there are more than 15,000 untested rape kits.

Thom has worked to solve this problem by joining his colleagues in introducing the bipartisan SAFER Act, which reauthorizes, strengthens, and extends the Sexual Assault Forensic Registry program in an effort to help reduce the national rape kit backlog.

Fighting against human trafficking and sex abuse

It is estimated that upwards of 18,000 people, primarily women and children, are trafficked in the United States every year, with North Carolina ranked in the top 10 among all states. Victims are coerced into the sex trade or forced labor, robbing them of their most basic freedoms.

Thom has worked across the aisle to combat human trafficking, supporting bipartisan legislation like the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which was signed into law by President Obama. The bipartisan law gives law enforcement vital tools they need to bring down human traffickers and the criminal organizations that enable their heinous activities. It also provides victims with assistance and provides states with grant funding to develop and implement child abuse investigation and prosecution programs.

Thom also co-sponsored the Extending Justice for Sex Crime Victims Act, which clarifies that the statute of limitations for sex abuse and trafficking victims does not begin until the actual discovery of the violation or injury. This provides another avenue for victims to seek justice against their abusers.

Additionally, Thom is a co-sponsor of the Missing Children’s Assistance Act, which increases the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) resources for parents and communities to prevent and respond to child abduction and exploitation. This legislation also strengthens NCMEC’s work on child sex trafficking, children missing from care, and other critically missing children. This bill also takes steps to help protect children online.

Pursuing Justice for Child Abuse Victims

Thom has worked across the aisle on solutions that provide resources for children who are victims of sexual abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice.

  • Thom co-sponsored the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization, which was signed into law. This bipartisan law increases funding for Children’s Advocacy Centers that provide support for children who have been victimized. Centers employ multi-disciplinary teams of trained professionals to interview children that have been victimized. These interviews are admissible in court and minimize the trauma of children having to tell their account multiple times to different people. Additionally, Children’s Advocacy Centers are highly effective when utilized and lead to faster criminal charging decisions in sexual abuse cases, increased felony prosecutions of child sexual abuse and lowering average per-case cost.
  • Thom and his colleagues introduced the bipartisan Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act, which was signed into law.  The bipartisan legislation recognizes the unique kind of harm caused by child pornography and requires restitution in a manner that will support victims and give them give them the chance to receive a one-time fixed compensation payment from the existing Crime Victims Fund.
  • Thom is a co-sponsor of the CyberTipline Modernization Act, which aims to reduce the proliferation of online child sexual exploitation and prevent it from circulating online in the first place. This legislation facilitates reporting to NCMEC for imminent or planned violations—this key change responds to new dangers children face online like enticement and sextortion—and provides an opportunity for intervention before further harm to a child. In addition, this bill recognizes the increased proliferation of child pornography across the globe and strengthens NCMEC’s process for handling international reports to ensure that they are sent to the proper authorities in foreign countries. The legislation was signed into law.

Victims of child pornography deserve justice for the traumatic experiences they live through, and we must do everything we can to help make these individuals whole again. The Amy, Vickey, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act will allow those harmed by child pornography to receive support in their recovery and begin healing from these horrific acts.

Senator Thom Tillis

Advancing Research of Medical Marijuana

Thom believes that when it comes to our nation’s efforts to cure diseases and improve the quality of life for people suffering from ailments, burdensome government regulations shouldn’t be an impediment to legitimate and responsible medical research. That is why Thom has co-sponsored commonsense, bipartisan efforts to remove unnecessary barriers that will give scientists the ability to study the biochemical processes, impact, dosing, risks, and possible benefits of cannabidiol and other components of the marijuana plant.

Tillis said his interest in the issue dates back to his time in the North Carolina General Assembly. The legislature considered the effectiveness of cannabinoids, compounds derived from marijuana, in the management of pain – particularly for cancer patients and those undergoing chemotherapy – and to help prevent seizures in children. ‘There is a lack of research evaluating the benefits and risks of the therapeutic compounds extracted from the marijuana plant as a possible medication, in large part because of federal barriers that block valuable scientific and clinical research,’ Tillis said in a statement.

Thom's Leadership on Intellectual Property

Thom currently serves as the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property. Intellectual property plays an important role in our nation’s long-term economic success and national security. Intellectual property also serves as a foundation of many innovative businesses across North Carolina, which spur job growth.

Our country has recently been faced with numerous challenges to our intellectual property system, from rampant theft from bad actors like China to confusion among innovators and inventors about what is even patentable. These issues are causing our nation’s economy to lose billions of dollars annually and threaten our country’s long-term dominance as the innovation and technological leader.

Adapting to Emergency Technologies

Thom takes great interest in emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence and implementations of blockchain such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). These technologies have already had an impact on our society and must be carefully considered moving forward. Strong intellectual property rights helped innovators create emerging technologies, and it is important for intellectual property rights to be a key part of the policy discussion of the uses for emerging technology.

In a bipartisan letter to both the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office, Thom requested that the two agencies undertake a joint study to address a list of considerations surrounding NFTs and intellectual property. Then in another bipartisan letter to both agencies, Thom requested that the two agencies establish a national commission on artificial intelligence to assess the role of artificial intelligence across all aspects of our innovation economy, as well as to consider what laws should change to adapt to emerging technologies.

As Ranking Member of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee, Senator Tillis also helped to lead two hearings that explored the intellectual property issues and solutions that artificial intelligence creates in the patent and copyright contexts.

Protecting and Promoting Innovation

Thom is focused on improving patent policy to spur American innovation and create jobs across the country and especially in North Carolina. He reintroduced the Patent Eligibility Restoration Act - bipartisan legislation to reform our patent system and provide clarity for inventors when it comes to patent eligibility.

This bill is the result of five roundtables, which consisted of over sixty participants and three days of committee hearings consisting of forty-five witnesses. These stakeholders and witnesses represented academics, thought leaders, trade associations, interest groups, bar associations, and companies. A common theme emerged from these roundtables - the current state of patent eligibility is undermining research, development, and innovation across all industries and that America’s innovators do not have the predictability and certainty that they need. Reform is necessary to restore the United States to a position of global strength and leadership in key areas of technology and innovation, such as medical diagnostics, biotechnology, personalized medicine, artificial intelligence, 5G (wireless), and blockchain.

Thom has also introduced the bipartisan Patent Examination and Quality Improvement Act, which would evaluate and improve, where applicable, the patent examination process and the overall quality of patents issued by patent examiners at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by focusing on the key requirements of patentability.

Fighting to Protect American Intellectual Property Rights

Thom supports ending both the domestic and international theft of intellectual property and online commercial piracy perpetrated by criminal organizations, regardless of whether these organizations are located within the U.S. or in countries such as China. He is committed to working on legislative ways to address these issues.

For example, the Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, which was led by Thom and was signed into law, is one such example. It allows the Department of Justice to bring felony charges against providers - not users - of illegal streaming services. Thom continues to work on a bipartisan, bicameral basis to examine the current state of intellectual property in the United States and to make targeted improvements to our intellectual property framework that protects and promotes America’s innovation economy.

Thom also introduced the bipartisan SMART Copyright Act, which would hold technology companies accountable by allowing for an open and adaptable anti-piracy framework to be established that promotes a vibrant and fair digital marketplace. This legislation builds upon the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was revolutionary for its time.

Bringing Attention to Intellectual Property

Thom has conducted oversight hearings with the U.S. Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the U.S. Copyright Office. He also held hearings on the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, foreign threats to intellectual property, the impact of artificial intelligence on patent law, and the impact of artificial intelligence on copyright law.