The Violence against Women Act after United States v. Lopez: Will Domestic Violence Jurisdiction Be Returned to the States
Recent judiciary and media events have put a national focus on the overlooked problem of domestic violence. Federal lawmakers admirably responded to this attention in an aggressive manner when Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Although little doubt exists that this country needs to reduce domestic violence, this sweeping federal legislation may not be the most effective means. The hasty response by federal lawmakers is unconstitutional in consideration of the Supreme Court's recent holding in Lopez. Although initial court challenges to the VAWA on Lopez grounds have resulted in split decisions, this Note argues that portions of the VAWA will continue to be struck down on Commerce Clause grounds. Furthermore, domestic relations and domestic violence are areas of the law that have traditionally been most effectively regulated by the States. While the problem of domestic violence in our nation is indeed significant, the new federal legislation is unlikely to provide viable solutions. Perhaps the only portions of the Act passing constitutional muster are those provisions which provide money to the States to assist in their efforts aimed at domestic violence prevention and prosecution. Whereas this Note reasons that the Commerce Clause power does not extend so far as to authorize the VAWA, it also recognizes that the States are capable of actively pursuing solutions to our nation's domestic violence problem.
Note, The Violence against Women Act after United States v. Lopez: Will Domestic Violence Jurisdiction Be Returned to the States, 44 Clev. St. L. Rev. 345 (1996)