The Violence Against Women Act has now passed both the Senate and House of the US Congress.
The law seeks to address violent crimes against women, to aid in the prosecution of offenders, and to provide resources for victims. But Wyoming’s three congressional lawmakers all voted against renewing the bill.
Representative Cynthia Lummis says for her, the provision allowing tribal courts to prosecute non-Native people who abuse Native women on reservations was the deciding factor.
“I hate doing that, especially being Wyoming’s lone Congressional Representative who’s a woman,” Lummis says. “But given the Constitutional infirmities and the concerns that we heard from Wyoming law enforcement officials and members of the Wyoming bar, people who defend the rights of accused in Wyoming, I was sufficiently concerned to believe that this bill needed to be vetted a little more.”
The bill does permit people to move their case to federal court if they feel that tribal courts are not upholding their constitutional rights.
House Republicans put forth their own version of the bill, which did not expand tribal courts’ powers, but that version failed.
The bill now goes to the President.