Violence Against Women

Listen / Download

On Monday, the Supreme Court took the sting out of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

The 5-to-4 ruling struck down a woman’s right to sue rapists and other attackers in federal courts, and it raises all sorts of difficult questions about women’s rights, states’ rights, civil rights, factionalism among the Justices, and the power struggle between Congress and Court.

The Act was passed in 1994 after four years of hearings on states’ failure to treat gender-based violence as seriously as other crimes. The first woman to sue for damages in federal court under the Act was a student at Virginia Tech who claimed she was raped in 1994 by two football players never disciplined by the college.

Her case made its way up to the Supreme Court and met its demise on Monday when the court ruled the Act unconstitutional. The case for and against federal jurisdiction over hate crimes in this hour of The Connection.
(Hosted by Christopher Lydon)


Charles Fried, Professor at Harvard Law School and former Associate Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, and Diane Rosenfeld