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