Chuck Grassley has a sad. You see, he’d like to vote for the Violence Against Women Act but, doggone it, he just can’t. He supports “…98 percent of what’s in the bill” he says. So what’s holding him back? Like his buddies Jim Risch (R-ID), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX), Grassley believes that the VAWA includes “… an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority” in that rape trials involving Native American victims would be conducted by tribal authorities.
Grassley goes a bit further, though. Displaying a shocking misunderstanding of the Sixth Amendment, he outlines his objections:
“One provision (is) that non-Native Americans can be tried in tribal court. And why is that a big thing? Because of the constitutionality of it, for two reasons. One, you know how the law is, that if you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society. […] So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.” (SOURCE)
Oh, Chuckie. No, that’s not correct. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that a jury shall be drawn from the “State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed.” That’s all the Amendment says but the Supreme Court further established that defendants have the right to a jury that has been “drawn from a fair cross-section of the community.” Nowhere in that brief does it say anything about a jury reflecting the “whole of American society.”
What is disturbing about Grassley’s comments to me, as a woman and a Native American, is two-fold: for one thing he seems much more concerned about the rights of a suspected rapist than he does of the victim. Sadly, he is not alone in that viewpoint. Secondly, he appears to maintain the archaic idea that Native Americans are somehow not civilized. As if he expects a defendant to be scalped and tied down on an ant hill or some other stupidity he saw in a John Wayne western. In reality, there was little to no crime in Native American tribes and if there was, the criminal was usually just banished. It took the European’s “civilizing” influence before the tribes understood how cruel punishment could actually be.
So get off it, Chuck Grassley. You don’t have the slightest clue as to what you are spouting as your excuse to keep women subjugated and Native Americans in your stereotyped box. Your world of privileged white men who can rape and beat women of the First Nations with impunity is dying, and long past time. Get with the program or go crawl back into your hole. The rest of us are evolving.
T. Steelman is a life-long Liberal. She has been writing online about politics since 2007. She lives in Western Washington with her husband, daughter, 2 cats and a small herd of alpacas. How can anybody be enlightened? Truth is, after all, so poorly lit…