Domestic Violence Fairytales Threaten Constitutional Protections

Fanciful definitions are just the beginning.

Favored with $1 billion in federal largess each year, our nation’s domestic violence industry has created an alternate-reality legal system that would confound even the likes of Alice.

Our Looking Glass criminal justice system features judges who have been educated to always “err on the side of caution”; victim advocates who coach putative victims how to embellish their claims; and free legal help to accusers (but not defendants).

And for readers with a well-honed sense of fairy-tale humor, mandatory prosecution policies epitomize a legal system run amok. Often the “victim” decides she has taught her boyfriend enough of a lesson and recants her story. But zealous prosecutors have taken to jailing these women until they agree to cooperate. That draconian practice allowed a California woman to secure a $125,000 false arrest award a few years ago.

Such strong-arm practices have not escaped the attention of civil rights groups. The Washington Civil Rights Council has described our current domestic violence system as creating the “biggest civil rights roll-back since the Jim Crow era.”

Last year the Connecticut chapter of the ACLU took on the case of Fernando A., a man who had been falsely accused of throwing his wife down a flight of stairs. When a judge then deprived him of the right to a hearing to decide whether to remove his children, the ACLU took the case to the state’s Supreme Court. Fernando A. won on a 5-2 decision.

Earlier this year, Stop Abusive and Violent Environments, a Washington, D.C.-based victim advocacy organization, released a report titled “How Domestic Violence Laws Curtail our Fundamental Freedoms." The report concludes that each year, over two million Americans have their fundamental civil liberties overruled by the Violence Against Women Act.

Consider the constitutional guarantees of due process, probable cause for arrest, right to a fair trial, and equal treatment under the law -- all are cast aside by get-tough-on-crime domestic violence laws.

The tall irony is that Vice President Joe Biden, who proudly championed VAWA when he was a senator in the early 1990s, is a former professor of constitutional law.