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Violence Against Women
Native Brief: WASHINGTON - On a strictly party line vote of 10 Democrats for, and 8 Republicans against, the US Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday reported the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, S 1925, to the Senate floor.
The bill would allow tribes to opt into expanded 'special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction' over non-Indians and would make clear the intent of Congress to recognize the authority of tribal courts to issue and enforce civil protection orders against non-Indians.
Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed concern over a lack of "good understanding" of what the consequences of recognition of criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians.
Senator Grassley emphatically took issue with S 1925's use of the word 'inherent' to describe the right of Indian tribes to exercise criminal jurisdiction over domestic violence crimes saying that there is no inherent power of tribes to "do anything of the sort" and questioned the power of Congress to recognize and affirm something that does not exist. He also said that while he believes in tribal self-government, tribal self-government is not government over all persons, including non-Indians.
The measure incorporated the tribal provisions of the Stand Against Violence and Empower (SAVE) Native Women Act, S 1763, minus an amendment passed by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs making it a federal offense to violate a tribal domestic violence-related protection order.
The US House Committee on the Judiciary is expected to hold an oversight hearing on the reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act in mid-February, but no bills have yet been introduced. The reluctance of Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to endorse the tribal provisions in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization Act may foreshadow a lack of support in the Republican-controlled House for the tribal provisions of either S 1925 or S 1763.
posted February 6, 2012 6:00 am est
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