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Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Rape Law

Yesterday, in a typical 5-4 split, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a portion of a 1994 federal law that allowed rape victims to sue their attackers in federal court. The case involved a Virginia Tech freshman who accused two football players of raping her in her dormitory room in 1994. After the two suspects, who claimed the sex was consensual, received little disciplinary action from the University, Christy Brzonkala filed suit in Federal Court. In denying her suit, the Supreme Court stated that Congress had exceeded its authority in seeking to claim the commerce clause and the fourteenth amendment as a basis for the 1994 law. Such a ruling continues in the Federalist vein of the Rehnquist court that has sought to redress a perceived imbalance between the rights of the states and the federal government. Writing for the majority, Rehnquist stated: "If the allegations here are true . . . no civilized system of justice could fail to provide her a remedy for the conduct of respondent Morrison. But under our federal system that remedy must be provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia, and not by the United States." Advocates for women's rights, including the National Organization of Women, have condemned the decision, using it, in some cases, as a rallying cry for a renewed effort for an equal rights amendment.
Archived Scout Publication URL
Date of Scout Publication
May 16th, 2000
Date Of Record Creation
April 3rd, 2003 at 12:35pm
Date Of Record Release
April 3rd, 2003 at 12:35pm
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