Should the Violence Against Women Act Be Reauthorized?
The Violence Against Women Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation addressing domestic and sexual violence, was first enacted in 1994 and then reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. Among the measures the act has taken to protect victims and prevent abuse, the law strengthened the legal action taken against perpetrators of domestic violence and provided services, including rape crisis centers, hotlines, and community support programs, for its victims. Congress is now debating its reauthorization, as the law expired in September, and while it has received broad bipartisan support in the past it has recently come under political fire from some Republican lawmakers who object to provisions which Democrats have added to this year’s reauthorization. Critics specifically object to provisions which would expand the law’s coverage to illegal immigrants, homosexuals, and American Indians, who would have greater authority to persecute non-Indians who commit crimes against American Indian women. Republicans argue that these were purely political additions designed to induce GOP lawmakers to oppose an otherwise popular bill, giving Democrats more ammunition in their campaign argument that Republicans are “anti woman.” Furthermore, some conservative activists object to the law entirely, arguing that it does not cut down on—and might even increase—instances of domestic abuse while overextending the federal government’s jurisdiction. Should the Violence Against Women Act be reauthorized? Here is the Debate Club’s take: