Harold Monteau: Report on VAWA bill shows bias against tribes

"Congress and Congressional Committees routinely turn to the Congressional Research Service in the Library of Congress for legal analysis/opinions on proposed legislation. As I expected I did find a Legislative Counsel opinion from the Congressional Research Service (CRS): Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction over Non-Indians in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization and the Save Native Women Act (April 18, 2012). The CRS website states “CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking.” The report was written by two Legislative Attorneys with a combined total of seven years experience, one being a former attorney in the Interior Solicitors Office.

The CRS report on S. 1925 (VAWA) strains to give the appearance of bi-partisanship and neutrality, but it is littered with judgmental presumptions that what Congress would be doing by passing S. 1925 would amount to “extension, expansion, giving, granting” tribal courts jurisdiction over non-members. The report argues against Congressional authority to “recognize or confirm” the inherent power of Tribes to exercise such jurisdiction. The report also reflects bias held by states and some courts with regard to the inferior nature of tribal courts and tribal court processes. The CRS certainly appears to have sided with Senators Kyle and Hutchinson’s position as well as many states’ anti-tribal jurisdiction stance. Quite frankly, the CRS analysis carries the states’ water in saying that Congress cannot recognize and affirm the tribes’ jurisdiction over non-Indians."

Get the Story:
Harold Monteau: Congressional Research Service Shows Bias With VAWA Legal Opinion (Indian Country Today 6/13)

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