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Supreme Court strikes down violence against women act

brzonkala
The Supreme Court says former Virginia Tech student Christy Brzonkala may not sue her alleged attackers in federal court  

May 15, 2000
Web posted at: 1:15 PM EDT (1715 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority in trying to give women who were victims of sexual violence the ability to sue for civil damages in federal courts under the Constitution's Commerce Clause.

The court struck down provisions of the Violence Against Women Act by a 5-4 majority.

"Gender motivated crimes of violence are not in any sense economic activity," Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote for the majority.

  FULL TEXT:
U.S. vs. Morrison
(Findlaw)
 
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Virginia Tech student Christy Brzonkala had filed suit under the act alleging two football players had raped her in a university dormitory in 1994.

Her case contended that because she subsequently dropped out of college she had suffered an economic consequence of a lesser education and poorer job opportunities.

But the conservative wing of the court found neither the Commerce Clause nor the 14th Amendment suitable for congress to pass such a law.

"If the allegations are true, no civilized system of justice could fail to provide a remedy," Rehnquist said in delivering the court's opinion. "But it must come from the Commonwealth of Virginia, not the federal government."

The ruling comes in two combined cases: Brzonkala v. Morrison and United States v. Morrison, argued January 11, 2000.



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