The Union recently published a letter criticizing my vote against the “Violence Against Women Act” or VAWA. Your readers may want to look beyond its appealing title.
Under this law, ordinary American citizens with no connection to Indian tribes could be prosecuted and tried in Indian tribal courts instead of U.S. criminal courts, upending the Supreme Court’s 1978 ruling that explicitly denied Indian tribes inherent criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.
It violates not only our Constitution but basic tenets of due process. Several women’s groups opposed VAWA because of the way it hamstrings judges who are trying to resolve difficult domestic disputes that ought to be decided on a case-by-case basis. One such group cited a similar Florida law, which required a judge — against his better judgment — to send a mother of two to prison for 20 years for firing a warning shot at her abusive husband.
Finally, it violates fundamental fiscal prudence by throwing $2 billion of taxpayer money at a group of scandalously unaccountable organizations. A Department of Justice audit found that 21 of 22 VAWA grant recipients had violated the terms of their grants.
You can’t tell a bill by its title.
Rep. Tom McClintock
4th Congressional District