Senate To Take Up VAWA Reauthorization
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. The U.S. Senate voted Monday to consider reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act. The revamped bill enhances protections for American Indians, illegal immigrants, and gays and lesbians.
The Senate approved a similar version of the bill last year but it failed to pass the House. The stumbling block was granting tribal courts jurisdiction to handle cases involving non-native suspects. Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is a co-sponsor of the bill. Before he and his colleagues voted, he pointed out that one in four women has been a victim of severe domestic violence. Leahy recalled going to crime scenes as a prosecutor.
"During that time no police officer ever said, 'is this victim gay or straight?'" Leahy said. "'Is this victim an immigrant or a Native American?' They said as I’ve said so many times before, a victim is a victim is a victim."
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley expressed concerns about the constitutionality of allowing tribal courts expanded jurisdiction.
The Senate will discuss the bill later this week. The House is considering a similar bill.