Senate Eyes Violence Against Women Act
That said, I do not hesitate for a moment to call the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) completely useless legislation. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) may disagree. Roll Call reports that Sen. Leahy has built a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority to advance VAWA in the near future. The article states that lawmakers “failed” to approve VAWA’s reauthorization in the last Congress.
But can refraining from reauthorizing such flawed legislation properly be called failure? No. Not at all, actually.
According to the left, this legislation has the power to protect women – and gays and lesbians and American Indians – from violence. It also contains provisions to protect young people and the elderly, and another to protect prisoners, too. (For accuracy’s sake, might I suggest this bill would better be called the Violence Against Everyone Act?)
How has that worked out for them over the last 18 years, since the law’s inception? Perhaps we could ask Sen. Leahy or the other 60 senators whose support for VAWA he’s garnered. But their answer would have tenuous grounding at best. As Heritage points out:
Despite being created in 1994, grant programs under the VAWA have not undergone large-scale, scientifically rigorous evaluations of effectiveness.
But, remember, for liberals continued funding of federal programs is not about fact, it’s about emotion. And it feels good to say we’re helping women (and men and prisoners and American Indians and young people and elderly) who are victims of violence. Although there is no evidence that VAWA has succeeded in accomplishing the goal of reducing violence against women, it has certainly undermined the constitutional authority given to the states, reserving to them police power.
What have the states been doing for the past 18 years while VAWA has been in existence to address violence? All 50 of them (or 57 if you think like Obama) and the District of Colombia have laws on the books that designate violence against women – or anyone for that matter – as “a crime punishable by incarceration, depending on the degree of assault.” Indeed, “the fight against domestic violence is waged mainly at the state and local levels.”
Moreover, under America’s constitutional framework, police power is reserved to the states. They have:
adapted to the realities of domestic violence and have created specialized domestic violence courts, treatment programs, shelters, retraining programs, public awareness campaigns, prevention programs, and the like. State and local prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys have taken specialized courses in the investigation, prosecution, treatment, and a constellation of other issues related to domestic violence, including violence against women.
In an imperfect world, there will always be work to be done to prevent acts of violence. But the “solutions” put in place by VAWA are based on the idea that violence against women is a result of their “weaker social, political, and financial status.” Thus, the “substance of VAWA focused largely on redistributing power and resources to female victims.” This has served to undermine equal protection and the rule of law.
Over the past 18 years, VAWA has morphed into a smorgasbord of feel-good intentions about violence. Over that same period of time, VAWA has had no scientifically discernible effect on the level of violence in this country, proving once again Washington is not the solution.