Robert Porter: Tribal jurisdiction in VAWA bill protects rights

"Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) recently issued a statement on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Sen. Kyl opposed the Senate Judiciary Committee’s version of the bill, S. 1925, crafted by Sen. Leahy (D-VT), calling the provision enabling tribes to arrest, prosecute, and imprison non-Indians for crimes of violence against tribal women unconstitutional.

Kyl argued that the provision subjecting individuals to the jurisdiction of tribal governments violates constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process because the perpetrators are excluded from participating in the tribal government on account of race. This argument is simply wrong.

Section 904 of S. 1925 is constitutionally sound. The provision for tribal criminal jurisdiction would not deny a defendant’s rights. Instead, it provides mechanisms to ensure due process and civil rights.

Section 904 specifically addresses “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction”—it does not include all tribal criminal jurisdiction, and only applies to those violent crimes against Native women that occur on Native territories by persons with significant relationships to a tribal member or her tribal nation."

Get the Story:
Robert Odawi Porter: No Question of VAWA Constitutionality (Indian Country Today 5/8)

More Opinion:
Ray Cook: A Response to Senator Jon Kyl (Indian Country Today 5/8)
William Norman, Charles Hobbs, Dan Lewerenz & John Tabinaca Plata: Senator Kyl and the Violence Against Women Act (Indian Country Today 5/7)
Karla E. General and Robert T. Coulter: Violence Against Women Act: Overdue Justice for Native Women (Indian Country Today 5/7)

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