"Brzonkala v. Morrison is the perfect opportunity for the High Court to recognize that women are entitled to equal protection under the law -- as is provided by the civil remedy in the Violence Against Women Act," Ireland said. "Rape and other violence, which have reached epidemic levels, are devastating crimes against women and society."
"Such a mammoth problem requires swift and far-reaching action by Congress and the courts. Anything less would be both inadequate and an insult to the survivors and victims of violence."
Ireland voiced her support of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court held immediately prior to oral arguments in Brzonkala v. Morrison. At issue in the case is whether survivors and victims of gender-motivated violence will continue to have the right to sue their attackers in federal court under VAWA's civil remedy. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals declared VAWA unconstitutional, ruling that Congress overstepped its authority.
Oral arguments in the Brzonkala case come in the wake of Congress' failure to re-authorize VAWA during the year-end budget debate. Re-authorization of VAWA would continue -- and in some cases expand -- funding for numerous anti-violence programs, including many hotlines, shelters and support services for survivors.
"The right to safety should be fundamental. Yet, universally, women live in fear of violence -- whether in the home, in the streets, at work or in school. The threat of violence colors the decisions that women make everyday -- like where to walk, when to go home and even what we say on our answering machines," Ireland said. "The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 only begins to address the problem -- we have much more work left to do."