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    This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.

99-5 on Jan 11, 2000

Decided May 15, 2000
The petitioner alleged that she was raped while a student at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and that this attack violated [part of the Violence Against Women Act], which provides a federal civil remedy for the victims of gender-motivated violence.


(Rehnquist, joined by O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas)
The Commerce Clause does not provide Congress with authority to enact a federal civil remedy [a lawsuit]. Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, which permits Congress to enforce equal protection of the laws, also does not give Congress the authority to enact [such a law. Despite] pervasive bias in various state justice systems against victims of gender-motivated violence, the 14th Amendment prohibits only state action, not private conduct.


The Federal Government persists in its view that the Commerce Clause has virtually no limits. Until this Court replaces its existing Commerce Clause jurisprudence, we will continue to see Congress appropriating state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.


(Souter, joined by Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer)
The Court says both that it leaves Commerce Clause precedent undisturbed and that the Civil Rights Remedy of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 exceeds Congress’s power under that Clause. I find the claims irreconcilable and respectfully dissent. Congress has the power to legislate with regard to activity that, in the aggregate, has a substantial effect on interstate commerce. A mountain of data assembled by Congress shows the effects of violence against women on interstate commerce. Today’s majority, however, finds no significance whatever in the state support for the Act based upon the States’ acknowledged failure to deal adequately with gender-based violence in state courts, and the belief of their own law enforcement agencies that national action is essential.

    Participating counts on VoteMatch question 2. Question 2: Legally require hiring women & minorities Scores: -2=Strongly oppose; -1=Oppose; 0=neutral; 1=Support; 2=Strongly support.
  • Topic: Families & Children
  • Headline: Rape victims cannot sue their alleged attackers (Score: -1)
  • Headline 2: Let rape victims sue alleged attackers as gender-bias crime (Score: 1)
  • Headline 3: Congress can't allow lawsuits by rape victims under 14th Am. (Score: -1)

  • Key for participation codes:
  • Sponsorships: p=sponsored; o=co-sponsored; s=signed
  • Memberships: c=chair; m=member; e=endorsed; f=profiled; s=scored
  • Resolutions: i=introduced; w=wrote; a=adopted
  • Cases: w=wrote; j=joined; d=dissented; c=concurred
  • Surveys: '+' supports; '-' opposes.

Democrats participating in 99-5

Stephen Breyer j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 
Ruth Bader Ginsburg j2dUS Democratic Appointee to Supreme Court 

Republicans participating in 99-5

Anthony Kennedy j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
Sandra Day O`Connor j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2005) 
William Rehnquist w1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (until 2005) 
Antonin Scalia j1US Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 
David Souter w2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2009) 
John Paul Stevens j2dUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court (retired 2010) 
Clarence Thomas w3cUS Republican Appointee to Supreme Court 

Independents participating in 99-5

Total recorded by OnTheIssues:

Democrats: 2
Republicans: 7
Independents: 0

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