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Federal Legislation Update: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

24 Apr

Professor Eugene Volokh over at The Volokh Conspiracy points out some potential Constitutional problems in § 1003 of the federal Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, which, according to Volokh is being debated in the Senate tomorrow.

In a later post, Volokh noted some additional problems with the bill, specifically that a portion of the proposed legislation would expand the speech restrictions in 18 U.S.C. § 2261A, despite the fact that a federal judge in Maryland had previously dismissed criminal charges brought under the existing statute as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Volokh later had a third post on the bill’s problematic title.

Constitutionality and/or policy wisdom notwithstanding, it turns out both of Minnesota’s Senators (Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar) are cosponsors of the bill. For what it’s worth, two of Minnesota’s Representatives (Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum) are cosponsors of a companion bill in the House. I believe it’s worth noting that Klobuchar and Ellison are both attorneys.

We’ll have to wait and see if these constitutional concerns are addressed in the hearing tomorrow.