Senate Judiciary Committee Passes VAWA Reauthorization; Sen. Grassley Opposes Tribal Sovereignty

Strict party line vote.

Sen. Grassley’s opposition to tribal sovereignty is reproduced here:

I’ll turn now to some of the provisions that I cannot support. For instance, S.1925 states that it recognizes the “inherent power” of Indian tribes “which is hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons.” Now I believe in the importance of federal responsibility for law enforcement and social services for Indian tribes. And I believe in tribal self-government. But as we meet here today, there is no inherent power of tribes to do anything of the sort the bill says. Self-government is not government over “all persons” – including non-Indians.

Because tribes lack this power, it’s untrue to say that Congress can recognize and affirm it. And if we do, I don’t know what effect such language will have on current law enforcement arrangements. After all, the bill goes much further than changing something for the future. It says that something exists that does not now exist.
For the first time, the Committee would extend tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. I do not believe the Committee has a good understanding of what the consequences would be of doing so. This was put in the bill. Like the other provisions to which I object, it was not the subject of any hearing.

Why would Congress, should it decide for the first time to make such a change, do so on a bill to reauthorize VAWA? Why should domestic violence cases be the first criminal cases to be treated in this way? What precedent would be created that might lead to other prosecutions of non-Indians in tribal courts? The bill’s expansion of the civil jurisdiction of tribal courts over non-Indians also needs more thought.

Well, the good news is that the opposition is on record. And now we know the opposition is explicitly racializing the problem of domestic violence in Indian country. In other words, Sen. Grassley would do nothing about DV offenders in Indian country who are non-Indian. I suspect he is tough on crime in every other instance, except where a non-Indian in Indian country commits a crime (or where the victim is gay).

This entry was posted in Author: Matthew L.M. Fletcher, Criminal, News, Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Senate Judiciary Committee Passes VAWA Reauthorization; Sen. Grassley Opposes Tribal Sovereignty

  1. Pingback: Update on VAWA Reauthorization & Tribal Jurisdiction — Crunch Time | Turtle Talk

  2. Pingback: How abusers get away with targeting Indian women | Clarifications

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