This time over their “concern” about the Constitutional issues posed by allowing non-native people to be subject to tribal courts if they commit acts of domestic violence on tribal land. Republicans object to what they say are inadequate protections for criminal defendants — an issue they really only seem to care about when violence against women is involved.
Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, said the tribes have tried to assuage Congressional misgivings, expanding financing and capacity, bolstering indigent legal representation, and changing rules to ensure that non-Indian defendants would face a jury of their peers, Indian and non-Indian alike.
At this point, said Ms. Pata, an Alaska Native, the opposition smacks of bias.
“When you see these amendments that give more rights to perpetrators than Native women, you start to wonder where the balance is,” she said. “We would give any other community in this country the resources and tools they need for justice, but we won’t give them to the Indians.”
Mr. Cole, whose state has one of the largest Indian populations in the country, agreed, to a point. He said some of his colleagues seem to “fear Indians are going to take out 500 years of mistreatment on us through this.”
“It’s that kind of fear, veiled in constitutional theories,” he said.
The Republicans who are holding up the legislation talk a big game about Constitutional issues, but they’ve held up VAWA before — a year ago because it helped too many people, including gay and lesbian people and undocumented immigrants. They’re hostile to VAWA, because it gives women what they believe to be outsized amounts of power to protect themselves.