Judiciary Committee Must Act Promptly to Avoid Risk of Constitutional Hold
Senators Coburn, McCain, DeMint, Ensign, Johnson, Paul, Lee, and Ayotte have just sent a Dear Colleague letter vowing to place a “hold” on any bills that infringe on persons’ constitutional rights. This is worrisome for proponents of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which comes up for reauthorization in 2011.
The problem is urgent. As the Washington Civil Rights Council puts it, the Violence Against Women Act represents the “Biggest civil rights roll-back since Jim Crow era.” (see http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20091013/OPINION03/710139998).
Stop Abusive and Violent Environments – SAVE — has published a report that documents the widespread undermining of persons’ constitutional rights. Are Domestic Violence Policies Respecting our Fundamental Freedoms? can be viewed here: http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/SAVE-Assault-Civil-Rights
The report concludes that each year, 2 million Americans have their civil rights eroded by domestic violence laws:
1. Probable Cause for Arrest
The Fourth Amendment requires that probable-cause evidentiary requirements be fufilled before an arrest can occur.
Each year, 1 million Americans are arrested on allegations of domestic violence. In half of these cases, probable-cause standards are not met: http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Justice-Denied-DV-Arrest-Policies
2. Equal Treatment Under the Law
The Fourteenth Amendment promises “equal protection under the laws.” But Section 103 of VAWA, Legal Assistance for Victims, provides legal assistance to claimants, but not for defendants.
The Violence Against Women Act annually spends $40 million in taxpayer money to place its statutory thumb on the scales of justice. It’s really like thumbing your nose at the Constitution.
3. Due Process
The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments guarantee “due process of law.” But the Violence Against Women Act funds training programs of judges that falsely stereotype men as abusers and bias the workings of the criminal justice system: http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/Bias-In-The-Judiciary
Betrayal of Victims
Over 11,000 victims of domestic violence – men and women – have signed a petition calling for the domestic violence industry to be “held accountable for refusing victims the resources and services they desperately need:” http://apps.facebook.com/causes/petitions/201?m=a4681d42
SAVE urges the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to assure the vision and promise of VAWA are fulfilled, and that citizens’ constitutional guarantees are regarded as more than a hollow promise.