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Supreme Court to Review Violence Against Women Act

The Supreme Court announced yesterday that it will hear an appeal of Brzonkala v. Morrison, a case that centers on the federal Violence Against Women Act. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Christy Brzonkala, who brought civil charges against Antonio J. Morrison and James Landale for rapes that occurred in 1994 in a dormitory at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute. This will be a major case for women and feminists in the current Supreme Court term.

The federal appeals court argued that Congress had overstepped its bounds in allowing victims of such violent, gender-based crimes to sue for damages in federal civil cases. What is at issue is the constitutionality of the civil rights section of the Violence Against Women Act, which was a major 1994 feminist victory. NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund notes that eleven federal district courts in other cases have upheld the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act allows victims to collect for medical expenses and lost wages in civil suits.

Media Resources: NLDEF, March 25, 1999 and Washington Post - September 29, 1999



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