Untangling the Spin: VAWA and Tribal Courts
There are a number of erroneous arguments surrounding the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which the Senate is expected to approve today. Ad hominem attacks aside, the New York explains major opposition remains “over a 10-page section that would, for the first time, allow Native American police and courts to pursue non-Indians who attack women on tribal land.” In key voting against the expansion of VAWA, Heritage Action raised the concern that this provision could cause the accused to “effectively lose their constitutional rights.”
Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) dismissed concerns from “out-of-touch, extremist groups” as “political football.” Ironically, Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) explained it was actually Sen. Murray’s home state colleague who had her facts wrong:
Now, first of all, the distinguished senator from Washington, Senator Cantwell, has said that there is a right of removal to federal court in the underlying bill, and that is incorrect. There is no right of removal to federal court in the underlying bill.
That, Sen. Murray, is out of touch.
Last year, Heritage called this expansion of the criminal jurisdiction of tribal courts “unprecedented, unnecessary, and dangerous”:
American Indian tribes operate racially exclusive governments on their territories and lands. They have their own sovereign powers and operate separately from federal, state, and local governments under which all other Americans live. Additionally, American Indians operate and run their own tribal courts, which to date have limited jurisdiction. That jurisdiction is limited to members of Indian tribes.
No one is suggesting we create a “safe-haven” for perpetrators of domestic violence, as Sen. Murray speciously inferred. Rather, opponents of the Senate expansion are genuinely concerned with the rule of law.