Feminist firebrand Catharine A. MacKinnon and former Solicitor General Charles Fried squared off last night to argue the constitutionality of a women's rights law presently under review by the Supreme Court.
The 1993 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) created a "civil right to be free from gender motivated violence," according to MacKinnon, but Fried, who is also Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence emeritus at Harvard Law School (HLS), argued Congress exceeded its Constitutional power by passing the law.
The discussion, "Arguing the Violence Against Women Act: Two Views," played out in the vast Ames Courtroom in Austin Hall at the law school.
Early in the night, spectators knelt in the aisles and banks of cameras, microphones and recording equipment jammed the rear of the courtroom, but as the two-hour debate turned from overarching ethics to legal minutiae, departing crowds left the hall half-full of spectators fanning themselves with legal briefs.
The constitutional question pivots on a civil right provision in VAWA that allows civil damages to be awarded to victims of crimes "committed because of gender or on the basis of gender, and due, at least in part, to an animus based on the victim's gender."
Critics of VAWA claim Congress has moved outside its enumerated constitutional powers and legislated on a state issue: battery.
MacKinnon facetiously broke her argument into two sections: "Part One: Why I am Right" and "Part Two: Why Charles is Wrong."
She then argued that making the law was a Congressional power within the commerce clause of the Constitution and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Save It for the StatesThe abstract doctrines of federalism and states' rights will soon have a concrete impact on the way in which the
LettersCommerce Clause of VAWA Constitutional, Has Precedent To the editors: "Save it for the States" (Ed., Jan. 21) is mistaken
When Women Are At StakeHistory does repeat itself: once again, the Anti-Federalists are dictating American legislative policy. From within their hallowed chambers, the Rehnquist
Three Professors Support Kennedy On Civil RightsThree Harvard professors gave strong support yesterday to the Kennedy Administration's decision to base the "equal accommodations" provision in its
Hon. M. A. Knapp Lectured in SeverHon. Martin A. Knapp gave in interesting lecture on "The Work of the Interstate Commerce Commission," under the auspices of
Clubs End Meeting in ClevelandThe fourteenth annual meeting of the Associated Harvard Clubs, at Cleveland, will be concluded today. The election of officers for