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.
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.
Intellectual Property and the American Innovation Economy
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 and serves as a foundation of many innovative businesses across North Carolina.
Our country has recently been faced with numerous challenges to our intellectual property system, from rampant theft from state 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 technological dominance.
Thom supports ending Chinese intellectual property theft and is committed to working on legislative ways to address this issue. Thom is also working 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 has conducted oversight hearings with the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and the U.S. Copyright Office. He also held a hearing on the number of women in intellectual property and a hearing World Intellectual Property Day about intellectual property in sports and public safety.
Thom is focused on improving patent policy to spur American innovation and create jobs across the country and in North Carolina. He released a draft patent reform bill with a bipartisan, bicameral group of Senate and House members. 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.
The common theme which emerged is that the current state of patent eligibility is undermining research, development, and innovation across all industries and that America’s innovators do not have predictability and certainty they need.
- In this letter, Thom highlighted the proliferation and economic impact of illegal online streaming of copyrighted content on the American economy. He encouraged DOJ to enforce criminal penalties on those using illicit streaming and infringing copyrights.
- Thom wrote to Customs and Border Protection to stress the importance of government cooperation with industry partners to address the public safety risk of counterfeit goods and the economic harms of these counterfeit goods. This letter also expressed concerns about infringing design patents and trademarks and requested input about how to close this loophole.
U.S. Copyright Office (USCO)
- Streaming (Press Release)
- This letter highlighted the frequency and the economic harms from illegal online streaming of copyrighted content on the American economy. Thom also requested more information from USCO about how the current law is being interpreted and applied to illegal streaming.
- Fourth Estate
- Thom wrote to the USCO to request more information about backlogs at the agency for copyright registrations and encouraged USCO to find solutions to more swiftly respond to copyright applicants.
- Office Modernization
- With the USCO undergoing a modernization initiative. Thom requested an update on the state of the office modernization efforts and urged USCO to embrace a competitive process that would accelerate the development of new systems and offer improved customer service.
- Thom wrote to the USPTO to request more information about serial petitions, which reflect coordinated efforts by certain groups to undermine rightful patents. He also asked USCO to evaluate and improve the patent appeal process and to prioritize solutions to the problem of abusive serial petitions.
- The Inventor Diversity for Economic Advancement (IDEA) Act of 2019 would direct the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to collect demographic data – including gender, race, military or veteran status, and income level, among others – from patent applicants on a voluntary basis. It further requires the USPTO to issue reports on the data collected and make the data available to the public.
- Thom is having ongoing conversations about how to improve our patent eligibility system. These proposed changes would clarify patent rules and give our inventors and innovators the certainty they need to succeed in the American innovation economy.
- The FLAG (Fair Licensing Access for Government) Act would amend the Lanham Act, the federal trademark law, to allow governmental entities to obtain federal trademark registration for their flags, insignias, and seals at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
- The Hatch-Waxman Integrity Act of 2019 would require a generic manufacturer wishing to challenge a brand-name drug patent to choose between the Hatch-Waxman framework, which affords certain advantages such as being able to rely on the drug innovator’s safety and efficacy studies for FDA approval, and inter partes review, or IPR, which is cheaper and faster than Hatch-Waxman litigation but does not provide the advantages of a streamlined generic approval process. The bill would apply similarly to patents on biologics.