Coburn Amendment to VAWA Defeated

An amendment which would have severely restricted protections for Native American women under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was defeated yesterday evening.

The amendment, proposed by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), would have removed a new provision of VAWA that would allow Native American tribal courts to try non-Native Americans for cases of violence against women that occur on tribal lands against members of the reservation. The amendment was defeated in a 59 to 31 vote.

Senator Coburn proposed the amendment and argued that the new provisions would eliminate the constitutional rights of non-Native Americans if they go before a tribal court. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) explained that Native American women experience abuse at a rate of two and a half times the national average, and argued that the new provisions extend constitutional rights to tribal courts. “This is about the life and death of women who need a better system to help prosecute those who are committing serious crimes against them,” she said.

In late January, Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) reintroduced a bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). The bipartisan-supported Senate VAWA includes expanded protections for Native American women, LGBTQ individuals, students, and immigrant women. Last week, an amendment that would have removed the expanded protections was defeated in a 65 to 34 vote.


Associated Press 2/12/2013; Senate Roll Call Vote on Coburn Amdt No. 13 2/11/2013; Feminist 2/8/2013; 1/23/2013

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