Commerce Clause of VAWA Constitutional, Has Precedent
To the editors:
"Save it for the States" (Ed., Jan. 21) is mistaken both in its stance against the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and its presentation of modern constitutional law.
The law in question, contrary to the staff's presentation, does not infringe upon the well-defined police powers reserved to the states by the 10th Amendment. What the law in question does is create a civil remedy, whereby victims of domestic violence can collect damages from their attackers.
The staff suggests that Congress is intervening "on the ground of state incompetence." Such a characterization grossly misunderstands the history of this legislation, however. Congress determined, over four years of hearings, that it had two grounds to intervene in this issue: civil rights and interstate commerce. First, Congress found that "gender bias permeates the [state] court systems," contributing to "the judicial system's failure to afford protection of the law to victims of domestic violence."
Under the enforcement clause of the history of this legislation, however. Congress determined that it had two grounds to intervene in this issue: civil rights and interstate commerce. Under the enforcement clause of the 14th Amendment, Congress correctly asserted that it had grounds to intervene on behalf of women who were being denied equal protection by the state justice systems.
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