The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday
rejected in a 5-4 ruling the civil rights section
of the 1994 federal Violence Against Women
Act (VAWA), preventing victims of rape
from suing their attackers in federal court.
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who
authored the majority opinion, declared that
VAWA wrongly stepped on states' authority
to enforce the Constitution's equal-protection
provision, affirming the appeals court's
decision that victims of such violent,
gender-based crimes should not be permitted
to sue for damages in federal civil cases.
Rehnquist wrote "Petitioners' assertion that
there is pervasive bias in various state justice
systems against victims of gender-motivated
violence is supported by a voluminous
congressional record. However, the
Fourteenth Amendment places limitations on
the manner in which Congress may attack
Justice Breyer wrote the dissenting opinion, in
which Stevens, Souter and Ginsburg joined.
Last Spring, in Brzonkala v. Morrison, 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
This defeat is a major setback for protecting
women against violence. Until now, the Civil
Rights Remedy of the Violence Against
Women Act allowed victims to collect for
medical expenses and lost wages in civil suits.
The Supreme Court decision against this
provision leaves women with no federal civil
legal remedy for damages they suffer because
of violent attacks.
Media Resources: The Nando Times - 15 May 2000, U.S. v. Morrison et
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .