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
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. . . .