Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) made the case that the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), passed by the Senate, “oversteps the Constitution’s rightful limits on federal power.”
Sen. Lee argued on the Senate floor that “everyone agrees that violence against women is reprehensible.” He went on to make the case that this is an issue better left to the states and not an issue in the constitutional purview of the federal government.
Sen. Lee argues that there are three reasons why the VAWA should not have been passed by the United States Senate:
- Sen. Lee made the argument that domestic violence is one of the few activities that our U.S. Supreme Court has specifically held that Congress can not regulate under the Commerce Clause. Lee stated that “violent Crimes are regulated an enforced almost exclusively by state governments.” James Madison wrote in Federalist 45 that “the powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined.” State governments have been traditionally the reservoir of police powers in our great nation.
- Sen. Lee also argued that the legislation restricts “each state’s ability to govern itself.” The mandates attached to the legislation interfere with the decisions better made at the state and local level. Lee argued that “state and local leaders should have flexibility in enforcing state law and tailoring victims’ services to the individualized needs of their communities, rather than having to comply with one-size-fits-all federal requirements.” The idea of federalism is that the federal government should not interfere with decisions better made at the state and local level, yet the strings attached to this legislation are a mandate on the states.
- Sen. Lee further argued that, if you accept that this bill is constitutional, it has problems. Lee stated that “the current reauthorization fails to address many instances of duplication and overlap among VAWA and other programs operated by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services. Nor does it address the grant management failings identified by the Government Accountability Office.”
Senator Mike Lee is spot on. Raising the reauthorization of VAWA to a national fight is using the legislation as a political talking point against conservatives. This legislation is unconstitutional and fundamentally flawed with duplication and waste.