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Missed Opportunity: Congress’s Attempted Response to the World’s Demand for the Violence Against Women Act

Posted by on Friday, July 6, 2012 in Notes, Vol. 43 No. 3, Volume 43, Volumes.

The Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Morrison struck down, as a violation of the Commerce Clause, § 13,981 of the Violence Against Women Act, that provided a private right of action for victims of gender-motivated violence to assert against their abusers.  However, § 13,981 should have been affirmed as implementing legislation designed to fulfill U.S. obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and customary international law.  Recognizing § 13,981 as implementing legislation serves as a foundation for the United States to restore itself as a legitimate human rights leader capable of both appreciating its own international obligations and pressuring other nations to come into compliance with international human rights obligations.  Furthermore, only through setting a precedent recognizing broad Congressional authority to pass implementing legislation would there be a structure in place for Congress to devote itself to domesticating the legal obligations present in non-self-executing human rights treaties.

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