Bench Memos

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Pryor favors wife beating?


I heard that bit, too, K-Lo. Schumer said Pryor is “opposed to protecting women from being beaten by their husbands” because he views part of the Violence Against Women Act as beyond Congress’s legitimate power. Here’s some of what CFJ put out on Pryor and VAWA:

Even in light of his enviable record on women’s issues, General Pryor’s shrill detractors have nonetheless distorted the position he took in an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case of United States v. Morrison, where the Court held that the Violence Against Women Act’s (“VAWA”) civil remedy was beyond Congress’s Commerce Clause powers. General Pryor did not argue that the whole Act was unconstitutional, as some special interest groups have claimed. Rather, the central point of Alabama’s argument was that prohibiting violence against women was absolutely necessary – but that doing so historically has fallen within the domain of state and local governments. Alabama simply argued that state and local officials are better equipped than the federal government to solve the civil justice aspects of the problem of violence against women.

The very day the Morrison decision was handed down, General Pryor reiterated Alabama’s commitment to eradicating gender-motivated violence. He noted, “States have led the way in battling domestic abuse and rape. The safety of women – and men – is best protected by encouraging and strengthening state efforts, not by allowing the states to pass the buck to federal bureaucrats and judges.” Indeed, when VAWA initially was proposed, a number of federal judges and their representative organizations opposed the law for the same reason: its tendency to displace traditional state adjudications. In 1991, the United States Judicial Conference objected to VAWA because it feared the legislation would “flood the federal courts with cases better handled in state courts.” The Judicial Conference is headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and includes the Chief Judges of thirteen federal appeals courts and a district judge from each of the nation’s twelve geographical federal circuits. Kathryn Coumanis, the Executive Director of Penelope House, knows the truth about General’s Pryor’s record on women’s issues. She had the following to say about him: “The entire Board of Directors of Penelope House Family Violence Center here in Mobile, AL, unanimously asked that I include them in support of this nomination. Attorney General Bill Pryor has been a long time supporter and advocate of Penelope House, and has worked tirelessly to protect women and children from the dangers of domestic violence. . . . When Bill Pryor raises his voice in support of our mission, it enables us to reach every member of our community. . . . Bill Pryor will bring to the Federal Bench the qualities that all Americans cherish. He is loyal to his State and his Country, is a man of princip[le] and integrity, is highly intelligent, and most of all is a man who has immense compassion and respect for his fellow human beings.”


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