by Carl, 02/11/2013, 8:01 PM

It’s strangely sectional, but I love it when the national media notice Washington people in Congress (for good things; it’s the worst when it’s for something awful). So I’m glad to see The Raw Story notice how ably Maria Cantwell handled the stupid arguments against the tribal portions of Violence Against Women Act (h/t).

Cantwell noted that Native American women experience domestic violence and sexual assault at a rate far above the national average.

“However, less than 50 percent of the domestic violence cases in Indian country are prosecuted because of a gap in our legal system,” she explained on the Senate floor. “This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about a debate on what is a good way to win votes somewhere in America. This is about the life or death of women who need a better system to help prosecute those who are committing serious crimes against them.”

[...]

Cantwell denied the tribal provisions would violate the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. She noted the U.S. Department of Justice would partner with tribal courts and non-tribal Americans would have the ability to appeal their case to a federal court. The legislation also specifically prohibits tribal courts from violating Americans’ rights.

3 Responses to “Thank God for Maria Cantwell”

1. Richard Pope spews:

I think extending tribal court jurisdiction over non-Indians is a bunch of political bullshit. There is a bigger problem with tribal courts being far too lenient in punishment and far less likely to convict, than there is with violation of defendants’ rights — although the latter problem exists as well.

Is Maria Cantwell really saying that over half of the domestic violence committed against Indians on Indian reservations is committed by non-Indians? Somewhat I seriously doubt that statistic is correct …

Now, I can believe that less than 50% of domestic violence committed against Indians on Indian reservations is prosecuted. If the crime is committed by an Indian against and Indian, then it is handled by the lenient tribal courts. If the crime is committed by a non-Indian against an Indian, then it can only be prosecuted by the United States Attorney (an Obama appointee!). The U.S. Attorney’s office only prosecutes a minority of the potential federal felony cases, and misdemeanor enforcement unfortunately is an even lower priority.

I would propose that all crimes committed in Indian country can be prosecuted in STATE COURT by either the state prosecuting attorney — or by a tribal prosecuting attorney, so long as an non-Indian perpetrator or victim is involved. Right now, such crimes can only be prosecuted in federal court, where the U.S. Attorney is rarely interested in doing so. Letting the tribal prosecuting attorney file charges against an non-Indian in state court would remove concerns about local state authorities not being interested all that much.

2. Lauramae spews:

It also applies to collecting evidence or even first responder limitations.

Given that Native women experience such high rates of violence, why give non-tribal members further ways out? What is the possible justification for that?

As for your solution, why should state law supersede tribal law? That’s crazy talk.

The law as it stands protects any non-tribal member who assaults a woman on her own reservation, Indian or not.

And I agree with Carl. Cantwell is great.

3. Ekim spews:

1. Richard Pope spews:

Is Maria Cantwell really saying that over half of the domestic violence committed against Indians on Indian reservations is committed by non-Indians? Somewhat I seriously doubt that statistic is correct …

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski [R] apparently also believes it. She gave a speech strongly in support of it prior to its passage in the Senate.

But the House Rethugs plan on writing their own bill instead of acting on the Senate bill. Expect to see it out of committee some time after the turn of the next century…