Court Will Decide Constitutionality of Violence Against Women Act
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was a significant feminist victory, allowing women to sue for monetary damages in federal civil court, including medical expenses and lost wages. VAWA also includes provisions to fund battered-women's shelters and domestic-abuse hot lines.
Tomorrow, January 11, the Supreme Court will hear Brzonkala v. Morrison, a case involving a Virginia Polytechnic Institute student who was allegedly raped in a dormitory by two football players who were students. This is a major case for women , as the Court will decide whether to uphold VAWA's civil rights section. Both a District Court Judge and the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the civil rights section of VAWA permitting women to enter the court and sue for damages if she is a victim of gender-based violence represents an abuse of Congress's power, leaving Brzonkala with no way to remedy her case. NOWLDEF is representing Brzonkala.
While opponents of the bill are focusing on the issue of states' rights, the crux of the case is the right of women to seek damages in cases of gender-based violence. Advocates of VAWA point to evidence that state and local law enforcement to do adequately respond to domestic violence and rape, and that state laws on violence continue to reflect bias against women.
The National Organization for Women will hold a rally outside the Supreme Court in support of VAWA Tuesday, January 11, 9:30 am at First Street and Maryland Avenue N.E. Feminists are urged to attend.
Media Resources: Washington Post, NOW, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund and Nando Times - January 10, 2000
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
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. . . .