The Violence Against Women Act creates a right to be “free from crimes ofviolence” that are gender motivated. It also gives a private civil right ofaction to the victims of these crimes. The Senate report attached to the actstates that “Gender based crimes and fear of gender based crimes. . . reducesemployment opportunities and consumer spending affecting interstatecommerce.
” Sara Benenson has been abused by her husband, Andrew Benenson, since 1978. Because of this abuse, she sued her husband under various tort claims andviolations under the Violence Against Women Act. Now Mr. Benenson isprotesting the constitutionality of this act claiming that Congress has noright to pass a law that legislates for the common welfare.
However, Congress has a clear Constitutional right to regulate interstatecommerce. This act is based solely on interstate commerce and is thereforeConstitutional. Because of abuse, Sara Benenson was afraid to get a jobbecause it would anger her husband. She was afraid to go back to school andshe was afraid to go shopping or spend any money on her own. All three ofthese things clearly interfere and affect interstate commerce.
Women likeMrs. Benenson are the reason the act was passed. There has been a long history of judgements in favor of Congress’s power tolegislate using the commerce clause as a justification. For the past fiftyyears, Congress’s right to interpret the commerce clause has beenunchallenged by the Court with few exceptions. There is no rational reasonfor this court to go against the powerful precedents set by the Supreme courtto allow Congress to use the Commerce clause.
In the case of Katzenbach v. McClung, the Court upheld an act of Congresswhich was based on the commerce clause, that prohibited segregation. McClung,the owner of a barbeque that would not allow blacks to eat inside therestaurant, claimed that his business was completely intrastate. He statedthat his business had little or no out of state business and was thereforenot subject to the act passed by Congress because it could not legislateintrastate commerce. The Court however, decided that because the restaurantreceived some of it’s food from out of state that it was involved ininterstate commerce.
The same logic should be applied in this case. Even though Sara Benenson’sinability to work might not seem to affect interstate commerce, it will insome way as with McClung, thus making the act constitutional. The SupremeCourt had decided that any connection with interstate commerce,as long as ithas a rational basis, makes it possible for Congress to legislate it. In the United States v. Lopez decision, The Supreme Court struck down the GunFree School Zones Act. It’s reasoning was that Congress had overstepped it’spower to legislate interstate commerce.
The Court decided that this act wasnot sufficiently grounded in interstate commerce for Congress to be allowedto pass it. The circumstances in this case are entirely different than in the case ofSara Benenson. For one thing, the Gun Free School Zones Act was not nearly aswell based in the commerce clause as is our case. The Gun act said thatviolence in schools kept student from learning and therefore limited theirfuture earning power. It also said that violence affected national insurancecompanies. These connections are tenuous at best and generally too long termto be considered.
However, in the case of Mrs. Benenson, her inability towork and spend directly and immediately affected interstate commerce. Therefore, the Lopez decision should not have any part in the decision ofthis case. The Supreme Court, in McCulloch v. Maryland, gave Congress the right to makelaws that are out of their strict Constitutional powers so as to be able tofulfill one of their Constitutional duties.
In this case, the Court allowedthe federal government to create a bank. There is no Constitutional right todo this and Maryland challenged the creation of this bank. The high courtruled that in order for Congress to be able to accomplish it’s duties. The same logic should be applied here. The Violence Against Women Act is anexample of Congress overstepping it’s direct Constitutional rights so it canbetter regulate and facilitate interstate commerce.
In order for Congress tolegislate interstate commerce fairly, it must allow people to be able to workand spend as they should be able to. If a woman is afraid of being abused ifshe gets a job or spends money, it affects interstate commerce. Thus TheViolence Against Women Act is Constitutionally based and necessary forinterstate commerce. Violence against women is a terrible crime. It destroys women’s self esteem,tears apart families, and destroys lives.
Many times, it will lead to murderor other terrible crimes. What the Violence Against Women Act is trying to dois give women a weapon to protect themselves from violent spouses. Withoutthis act, many women would be left incapable of getting any form of financialredress for the years of suffering and abuse they went through. It is wrong to deny women a tool to rebuild they’re lives after an abusiverelationship. The years of abuse they went through makes it hard if notimpossible for them to get a job or work in an office.
These women are afraidfor the rest of their lives that if they make a mistake or displease the menaround them, they will be beaten. This act allows women to get some means ofgetting money to live on while they rebuild their lives. It allows them toseek professional help if necessary. Without this act, women would be forcedon welfare or worse. When this happens, it benefits no one.
The Violence Against Women Act has a strong Constitutional basis in thecommerce clause, despite what Andrew Benenson says. The Supreme Court hasallowed many acts such as this to stand for the past fifty years. All theprecedents of cases with similar circumstances are to allow the act tostand. Also, we cannot forget the human aspect of this case.
This act is atool for women to rebuild their shattered lives after an abusiverelationship. To declare his act unconstitutional would be both legally andmorally wrong.Words/ Pages : 971 / 24