Why the Violence Against Woman Act Died

Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has protected millions of women and families across the United States by providing law enforcement agencies with numerous resources to help counter spousal abuse. The bill was originally penned by then-Senator Joe Biden in 1992 with the sole intention of protecting women from violence. Along with funding prosecutions against sex offenders, the Violence Against Women Act also established tougher penalties for habitual sex offenders, training of law enforcement agents, a national hotline for victims, a federal rape shield law, and a number of other provisions to benefit victims of abuse.

The law has continually helped millions of women every year across the nation because Congress has continually reauthorized the bill for almost two decades. In fact, this continual reauthorization of the bill in both 2000 and 2005 has been an achievement for a Congress not typically known for its bipartisanship. Unfortunately, like many initiatives this past year, the 112th Congress could not reach an agreement in 2012, killing the bill for the first time ever.

One of the primary causes of Congress’ inability to reach a compromise was a strong resistance from House Republicans – due in large part to the bill’s new provisions to cover an additional 30 million women. Specifically, the bill extended protections to women on college campuses. This came into consideration after the murder of Yeardley Love in 2010 at the University of Virginia. The bill also provided new law enforcement measures to protect Native American women on tribal reservations, immigrant women – no matter their status – and also women in the LGBT community.

“It was an inexcusable failure by House Republican leaders and one that will have real-life implications for women who now find themselves with nowhere to turn for help,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), wrote in an article on CNN.com.

Before reaching the House, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by a vote of 68 to 31 with the support of 15 Republicans.

“This seems to be how House Republican leadership operates,” Murray said. “No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”

On the other hand, House Republicans blamed Democrats for not budging on many issues, especially the LGBT, undocumented immigrants, and tribal jurisdiction provisions.

This battle began in the Senate last April when Democrats proposed the bill with the newly added provisions. Democrats drafted the re-authorization with input from anti-domestic violence advocates and law enforcement agents. Even with strong opposition from Republicans who wanted the provisions concerning LGBT women, Native Americans, and illegal immigrants removed, the re-authorization passed on to the House.

With no intention of supporting the act, House Republicans responded by presenting a scaled-back version of the bill that focused primarily on making it harder for illegal-immigrant victims to achieve citizenship under the U Visa. House GOP leaders eventually passed this version of the bill on a partisan vote even with President Barack Obama’s threat to veto the bill.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) urged the Senate to resolve the differences, arguing their version of the bill was unconstitutional. On the other hand, Democrats fought for the GOP to pass the Senate’s original version of the bill claiming it passed with strong bipartisan support and that President Obama had already threatened to veto the House’s version of the bill.

Democrats felt they had a chance in December when Vice President Biden met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to see if they could negotiate and reach a compromise. Unfortunately, both sides refused to budge on major issues involving the LGBT, undocumented immigrants, and tribal jurisdiction women.

A GOP source told Talking Points Memo (TPM) that Biden showed “good faith,” but that the Senate Republicans threw up too many “roadblocks,” and presented a “my way or the highway,” attitude.

In the end, the bill failed to reach President Obama’s desk before the end of the year.

While this is the kind of law that should exist, there are instances where situations of domestic violence can be arise solely to damage the alleged perpetrator’s reputation. In some cases, no domestic violence ever occurred at all. While it can be immensely difficult to prove violence one way or the other, courts generally side with the accuser. Because of this, it’s important for someone who is accused of domestic violence to have a strong defense. The help of an attorney can really make a significant difference in the crafting of such a defense.

What are Miranda Rights?

Your Miranda Rights are a set of rights granted by the Constitution. In the event that you are arrested, you should be aware of what your legal rights are. These include the right to avoid self-incrimination and the right to seek legal counsel.

The “Miranda Rights” receive their name from a man who was arrested, but was not aware of his legal right to avoid self incrimination, nor his right to counsel. Because of this, he signed a document admitting he committed a rape without the presence of a lawyer. When the prosecution tried present the document as evidence in trial, Miranda’s attorney objected to its admissibility. The document was written in a way that implied Miranda was aware of his rights when he really wasn’t. The Supreme Court later determined that the police violated Miranda’s constitutional right to legal counsel when they had him sign a legal document without the presence of an attorney. Furthermore, they violated his fifth amendment right to avoid self incrimination as a direct result.

Miranda Rights need to be read when arrestedIn many cases, police officers must now recite what are called a crime suspect’s “Miranda Rights” to him or her at the time of arrest. These include “the right to remain silent” and the right to legal counsel. While it is not always an absolute requirement to read these rights to individuals who are being arrested, most of the time officers feel obliged to do it.

Your right to legal counsel in the face of criminal charges is incredibly important. A criminal defense attorney will be intimately familiar with how to fight the charges against an accused criminal. He or she will more than likely fare much better in court as well, as the training an attorney must undergo is long and in-depth. The examinations that they take to become certified to practice law are difficult and require them to be knowledgeable. All in all, the various certification boards don’t allow just anyone to practice law.

Criminal defense attorneys are essentially tasked with protecting the rights of those who are charged with crimes. Their job is to do everything within their power to be certain that the court or legal process is not denying an alleged criminal his or her guaranteed rights while formulating an argument, based in law, that will free the defendant from the accusations.