Violence Against Women Act: Turning the
Unwary into Political Roadkill?
Question: What do lawmakers Arlen Specter,
Alan Mollohan, Barbara Boxer, and Orrin Hatch have
Answer: They are all high-profile
supporters of the federal Violence Against Women
Act whose political fortunes have plummeted in
For years, support for the federal Violence
Against Women Act (VAWA) was part of
lawmakers annual ritual of responding to and
placating a vocal segment of the electorate. But in
todays turbulent electoral environment, that
formula is disappearing faster than pulled pork at
a Texas barbeque.
Take Arlen Specter, five-term centrist senator
from Pennsylvania. As a long-time member of the
Senate Judiciary Committee, he was one of the lead
sponsors of VAWA. And when Sen. John Kerry
introduced the International Violence Against Women
Act in February, Specter quickly signed on as a
Preparing for his Democratic primary contest,
Specters Women for Specter
webpage highlighted his unwavering support for
VAWA. But on May 18, Specter was easily defeated by
Rep. Joe Sestak by a 54% to 46% margin.
The next day, the National Organization for
Women put out a press release celebrating
Sestaks upset victory. Despite years of
dutiful water-carrying that helped enrich the
womans organization, in the eyes of the N.O.W
Specter had become another a piece of political
So long, Senator Specter.
Then theres West Virginia Congressman Alan
Mollohan. As chairman of the House Appropriations
Committee, he could always be counted on to
arm-twist congressmen to approve an ever-swelling
budget for the Violence Against Women Act.
Two years ago domestic violence industry
representatives hailed Mollohan for his leadership
role in swelling VAWA funding to $435 million. The
National Network to End Domestic Violence went on
the record to say, Rep. Mollohan continues to
be a strong advocate for victims of domestic
violence, with special concern for rural
But that didnt help the powerhouse
appropriator on May 11, 2010, when Mollohan was
defeated in the Democratic primary election by
State senator Mike Oliverio by a surprising
Adios, Congressman Mollohan.
Californias Barbara Boxer has even more
impressive VAWA creds. Boxer was the original
sponsor of the Violence Against Women Act while she
served in the House. Although the bill didnt
pass the first time around, Boxer would later brag,
Nearly 14 years ago, the two of us first
introduced the Violence Against Women Act
Joe Biden in the Senate and Barbara Boxer in the
More recently, she signed on to the
International Violence Against Women Act. And of
course she has lured hundreds of thousands of
dollars in federal largesse to California in the
name of combating domestic violence.
But recent polls now spot her in a dead-heat
with GOP challenger Tom Campbell. In ultra-liberal,
uber-feminist California, support for VAWA now
lacks the gold-plated cachet it once embodied.
On November 2, Barbara Boxer may be out with the
rest of us looking for a new job.
Then theres conservative Sen. Orrin Hatch
of Utah. Like Specter and Boxer, Senator Hatch has
long been a champion of the Violence Against Women
Act. In fact, Hatch views passage of VAWA as one of
his proudest political accomplishments.
Hatch is not up for re-election until 2012. But
storm clouds are already gathering on the political
horizon. According to a Mason-Dixon poll released
on May 11, fully half of Utah voters would vote for
someone other than Hatch if he were up for
reelection this year. Hes toast,
exclaims GOP delegate Saima Leon.
Defending his ardent support for VAWA and other
controversial laws, Sen. Hatch offers this
justification: And sometimes, instead of
having a totally wrong bill, you do the best you
can to make it less wrong, because thats the
choice. Id like to have not totally wrong
Somehow I doubt Utah voters will be persuaded by
that go-along-to-get-along logic.
Most lawmakers who support the Violence Against
Women Act sincerely believe the law is doing good.
But according to a recent report, Assaulting
our Rights: How Domestic Violence Laws Curtail our
Fundamental Freedoms (www.saveservices.org/downloads/SAVE-Assault-Civil-Rights
VAWA is dealing a devastating blow to our
constitutional protections, with two million
Americans having their civil liberties trampled
upon every year.
Over time, that builds up into a tsumani of
disenfranchised voters who are tired of business as
usual in Washington DC. And thats why many
lawmakers are thinking long and hard about
reflexively supporting the Violence Against Women
Act this time around.
* * *
Roberts probes and lampoons political correctness.
His work has been published frequently in the
Washington Times, Townhall.com, LewRockwell.com,
ifeminists.net, Intellectual Conservative, and
elsewhere. He is a staff reporter for the New Media
Network. You can contact him at E-Mail
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