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“Tone Deaf And Arrogant”: This Season’s Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor Takes On The Violence Against Women’s Act

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is a powerful player on Capitol Hill who has pretty much flown under the radar with the general public. But I predict that won’t be true much longer. Now that Cantor is taking the lead on blocking reauthorization of an inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act in the House, more and more women are asking just who is this representative from Virginia’s 7th district, with his regressive brand of politics?

Cantor has a 12-year history in Congress of voting to restrict women’s access to abortion, deny marriage rights to same-sex couples and block efforts to address workplace discrimination. He’s opposed to affirmative action, embryonic stem cell research and expanding hate crimes law to cover sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability. He even voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

These anti-woman measures are bad enough. But the worst has been Cantor’s implacable hatred of the Violence Against Women Act, an antipathy so fierce that he not only took the lead in blocking it during the 112th Congress, but has now stepped forward to derail it once again. His reasoning? Near as I can tell, he just doesn’t want some victims to get help.

On Feb. 12, the Senate passed an inclusive version of VAWA reauthorization, S. 47, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 78-22. The Senate’s bill would offer new protections to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims, who report being unable to access services at astonishingly high rates. It would address college and university-based sexual violence, dating violence and stalking by requiring campuses to be transparent about their assault rates, prevention programs and assistance for victims. It would also recognize Native American tribal authorities’ jurisdiction over rapes committed by non-tribal members on reservations.

I was heartened by the huge margin of victory in the Senate. It indicates that Senate Republicans understand they need to regain credibility with women voters — specifically on the issue of rape — and supporting a reauthorization of VAWA that protects all sexual assault victims would be a step in the right direction. Some House Republicans understand this too; 19 of them sent a letter to the House Republican leadership urging them to pass a bipartisan bill that “reaches all victims.” In fact, we know we have the votes in the House to pass the Senate’s inclusive VAWA, if the leadership will just allow it to happen without playing political games.

Unfortunately, Eric Cantor is either too tone-deaf or too arrogant to do the right thing. Rather than moving swiftly to pass the Senate VAWA bill, Cantor has produced a “substitute amendment” that eliminates protections contained in the Senate bill, and even scales back current law, while also undermining the Office on Violence Against Women. Among its many flaws, this substitute drops LGBT protections; permits non-Native suspects to circumvent tribal authorities, leaving Native American women with inadequate protection from their abusers; and allows college and university administrations to shirk their duty to keep students safe from sexual assault.

To boot, in keeping with the Republicans’ 2013 stealth strategy as telegraphed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (i.e., stick with the extremist anti-woman agenda but don’t be so obvious about it), Cantor has put his own stealth moves on VAWA: His bill is deceptively numbered S. 47 (because it’s a substitute amendment of the Senate bill), and it was put forward by a woman, House Republican Conference Co-Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.). I’d say that’s too clever by half. Women voters are not so easily fooled, and will likely be offended by the clumsy attempt at subterfuge.

Eric Cantor is like this season’s Paul Ryan: an influential conservative with bad ideas who has thus far escaped public scrutiny. This time around we don’t have a Mitt Romney to help raise Cantor’s profile, but that’s okay. The majority leader’s attempt to derail a hugely popular bipartisan VAWA — and his willingness to write off the more than 1,400 local, state and national organizations that have expressed support for the Senate bill — will ensure that he will have to answer to the voters for his actions, probably sooner rather than later. Let me be the first to say it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.


By: Terry O’Neill, The Blog, The Huffington Post, February 26, 2013

February 27, 2013 Posted by | War On Women, Women | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Women’s Right’s Are Not Safe”: Romney’s Model Supreme Court Justices Voted Against Lilly Ledbetter

Earlier today, the Romney campaign responded to a question about whether their candidate supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act’s protection of equal pay for women with an awkward six second silence, followed by a promise to “get back” with an answer about whether or not Romney actually supports equal pay for women. The campaign has spent the rest of the day engaged in ham-handed damage control — first by putting out a statement saying that he is “not looking to change current law,” then by releasing statements by Republican congresswomen who previously voted against the Ledbetter Act.

Yet for all of Romney’s equivocating on whether or not he actually believes that women should be paid the same amount as men who do the exact same job, Romney cannot hide two important facts. The Ledbetter Act was only necessary because of a 5-4 Supreme Court decision which overruled decades of precedent protecting equal pay for equal work; and Romney promised to appoint more justices like the ones who voted against Lilly Ledbetter.

Last November, Romney listed four sitting Justices as the models he will follow if he gets to appoint a justice of his own — Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. Every single one of these justices voted against Lilly Ledbetter and against equal pay for women in the workplace. Just like they have voted in favor of corporate immunity from the law on issues ranging from forced arbitration to enabling corporations to buy and sell elections.

But, of course, Congress overruled the Supreme Court’s error in the Ledbetter case when it passed the Ledbetter Act, and Romney now says that he doesn’t want to change “current law.” So doesn’t that mean women’s current rights to equal pay are safe?

Not if Romney gets to appoint any more conservative justices. Just months after Congress spanked the Supreme Court by overruling their attack on women in Ledbetter, the five conservative justices handed down a very similar opinion stripping many older workers of their right to be free from employment discrimination. Worse, in taking away many older workers’ ability to protect their jobs, the Court left no doubt that it was thumbing its nose at precedent. Although longstanding law clearly established that the justices’ assault on older workers was wrongly decided, the Court’s conservatives choose to ignore this law because “it is far from clear that the Court would have the same approach were it to consider the question today in the first instance.” In other words, now that conservatives are in charge, they are free to do whatever they want.

Given that the conservative justices renewed their attack on workers so soon after the Ledbetter Act became law, and that they did so in an opinion that expressly stated that they do not care about precedents or established law, women simply cannot be sure that these same justices won’t hand down another decision much like Ledbetter if given the opportunity to do so. Mitt Romney may claim that he does not want to change “current law” in a way that harms working women, but if he gets to add more justices like Roberts or Scalia to the Supreme Court, he won’t have to. The Supreme Court will do it for him.


By: Ian Millhiser, Think Progress, April 11, 2012

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012, SCOTUS | , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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