God Bless Rehnquist!
George Szamuely
New York Press


The 1994 Violence Against Women Act should have been declared unconstitutional years ago. It was legislation typical of the Clinton era. It invented a problem that did not exist, provided work for thousands of prosecutors in an America already gone prosecution-crazy, violated civil liberties and squandered money on a vast, pointless federal program. The law was Clinton’s payoff to the feminists. Since state courts could not protect women, the federal government had to step in. "State courts are riddled with gender bias..." National Organization for Women (NOW) President Patricia Ireland shrieked recently. "Surely women must be able to look to Congress and the federal courts to enforce our civil rights and save women’s lives… Rape and other violence, which have reached epidemic levels, are devastating crimes against women and society."

None of these claims has the slightest basis in fact. But the lies serve a useful purpose. By portraying women as a victimized group the government can usurp the powers of local government in the name of protecting "civil rights." There is no "epidemic" level of violence against women. To the contrary, every day men are far more likely to be assaulted than women. The statistics the feminists cite are laughably misleading. Here is typical writing of this genre – the American Medical Women’s Association’s The Women’s Complete Healthbook. "Every 6 minutes a woman is raped," it warns, "every 15 seconds a woman is punched, slapped, kicked, or otherwise physically abused by a man she knows…every day, approximately four women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends…half of all American women experience violence from men at some point in their lives…more than 12 million American women, or one in every eight, have been raped at some time in their lives…20 percent of girls…reported they had been sexually abused before they were 18." Yet a 1998 report by the National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control states that 1.9 percent of the women surveyed claimed that they had been assaulted in the previous 12 months. For the men surveyed the figure is 3.4 percent. And while "18 percent of women surveyed said they experienced a completed or attempted rape at some time in their life," only "0.3 percent said they experienced a completed or attempted rape in the previous 12 months." In other words, women are hardly living in terror. According to the 1998 National Crime Victimization Survey put out by the Justice Dept., men are twice as likely as women to be victims of aggravated assault. Three-fourths of murder victims are male. And men are twice as likely as women to be subjected to violent victimization while at work.

Based on these deliberate distortions, the government set out to abrogate civil liberties. The Violence Against Women Act was part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which changed the rules of admissibility of evidence in federal sexual assault and child molestation cases. It’s now possible to enter into evidence during a trial a defendant’s past criminal record. "These evidence rules," explains the Butcher of Waco’s Justice Dept. smugly, "facilitate the effective prosecution of habitual sex offenders. They provide the basis for informed decisions by juries regarding questions of propensity to commit future crimes in light of the defendant’s past conduct." Further, the federal government has been urging the states to adopt these new evidentiary procedures. To do this it doles out large sums of money – among other things, the Violence Against Women Act was a nice $1.6 billion boondoggle, and there are grants galore written into the legislation.

The administration and Congress have for years been desperate to use the federal government for purposes of law enforcement. Hence the bogus issue of "civil rights." The claim that women are a victimized group is ludicrous. There is no evidence that state authorities do not investigate crimes committed against women. And women, like men, have recourse to the civil courts to seek monetary damages against criminal assailants. For the government to present itself as some latter-day Don Quixote defending the honor of women it had to pull off an extraordinary piece of legerdemain. Under Section 8 of Article I of the Constitution Congress has the authority "to regulate commerce...among the several States." Since gender-based violence restricts women’s choices in jobs and travel, the administration and Congress agreed that this was a proper matter for federal legislation. "[A]ll persons within the United States shall have the right to be free from crimes of violence motivated by gender," the law declared. Quite why being "free from crimes of violence motivated by gender" is more of a fundamental right than being free from crimes of violence motivated by pecuniary gain no one ever bothers to explain. Indeed, it is hard to know what being "motivated by gender" means. Does that mean that homosexual rape is okay?

Read George Szamuely's Antiwar.com Exclusive Column

Archived Columns by George Szamuely from the New York Press

God Bless Rehnquist!

Long, Hillary Summer

Communicating Power

Law as Ordered

What Threat?

Peculiar Yet Brave

Closed to Debate

Arrogance of Power

Prison Love

Gore's Oil

Rough Justice

Race Race

Al the Coward

Intruder Alert

McCain's Money

Haider Seek

Out of Africa

Prosecute NATO

Villain or Victim?

Intervention, Immigration, and Internment

Home-Grown Terrorism

Who Benefits?

Laws of Return

Embassy Row

Selling Snake Oil

Chinese Puzzle

That Was No Lady, That Was the Times

The Red Tide Turning?

Pat & The Pod

United Fundamentalist States

Let Them All Have Nukes!

Liar, Liar

Gangster Nations

Puerto Rico Libre – and Good Riddance

Leave China Alone

A World Safe for Kleptocracy

Proud To Be Un-American

All articles reprinted with permission from the New York Press

If the government’s reasoning was to be accepted, Chief Justice Rehnquist noted sarcastically, it "would allow Congress to regulate any crime as long as the nationwide, aggregated impact of that crime has substantial effects on employment, production, transit, or consumption. Indeed, if Congress may regulate gender-motivated violence, it would be able to regulate murder or any other type of violence since gender-motivated violence, as a subset of all violent crime, is certain to have lesser economic impacts than the larger class of which it is a part."

Moreover – and this really is the heart of the matter – if the Violence Against Women Act as well as other terrible laws of the Clinton years were allowed to stand, "Congress could regulate any activity that it found was related to the economic productivity of individual citizens: family law (including marriage, divorce, and child custody) for example… Thus, if we were to accept the government’s arguments, we are hard-pressed to posit any activity by an individual that Congress is without power to regulate." Imagine the kind of creature President Gore would hire to replace Rehnquist!

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