Taking time off from composing unintelligible tweets, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) explained to his constituents why he voted against the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Grassley: So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.
Grassley is implying that Native Americans are incapable of being objective. But even if that were the case, what’s the solution? If the solution is the status quo, that means allowing assailants to evade prosecution.
As Scott Keyes of ThinkProgress points out, the Sixth Amendment requires that juries be drawn from the “State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” And in this case, the district they’ve been committed in are tribal lands.
In my opinion, if the Republicans are serious about opposing the Violence Against Women Act because they believe it’s unconstitutional, they should allow the bill to pass and then challenge it in court where the issue can be settled once and for all.
Of course that wouldn’t look good for them so they will continue to stonewall the measure from the relative safety of the backrooms in congress.
Meanwhile, Native American women will continue to suffer disproportionately from domestic abuse and sexual assault while congressional Republican jockey for a way to oppose the measure without taking the blame for it.