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Wisconsin Senator Says Violence Against Women Act Is Unconstitutional

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 14, 2013 10:20PM

Image of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) via Facebook.
A Wisconsin Senator justified his vote against the Violence Against Women Act, which passed with bipartisan support in the Senate earlier this week 78-22 by calling the bill “unconstitutional.” According to the Oshkosh Northwestern, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who was among 22 other Republican luminaries reactionaries like Mark Rubio, Lindsey Graham and Orrin Hatch, called the bill “an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority.” The reauthorization of the bill, which provides funding towards investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women as well as grant funding for programs to help survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and more, also adds expanded protections for LGBT people, undocumented immigrants and Native American women.

Johnson and his fellow Republicans' opposition stems from these provisions, which now allow Native American law enforcement officials and courts to pursue perpetrators of violence towards non-Native Americans on their land. In one case reported by the New York Times, a Native American woman abused by her husband could not be stopped by tribal police because it happened on tribal land. Even after calling the county sheriff to prove no one could stop him, law enforcement only intervened after he stormed her office with a gun and opened fire.

Providing such protections to Native American women however, of which three out of five will become victims of domestic violence, is too much for Senators like Johnson. Additionally, protections provided to LGBT people or undocumented immigrants were problematic for the 22 Republicans who voted no. Several of the senators opposed it on the grounds that prosecuting violent crimes should be left to states. Much like the opposition to a United Nations treaty modeled after the Americans With Disabilities Act which was struck down in December, it appears these legislators are using the idea of “national sovereignty” to oppose a bill that would afford rights and protections to groups of people they hold prejudices against. The bill now heads to the House.