Hastings Journal on Gender and the Law


Angie Perone


When Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act ("VAWA"), it aimed to address pervasive problems associated with gender-motivated violence. Through inclusion of a section entitled "Civil Rights for Women," Congress specifically created a federal civil rights remedy for victims of gender-motivated violence. Nevertheless, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated the civil rights remedy provision of the VAWA, claiming that Congress lacked authority to pass this provision under the Commerce Clause and the 14th Amendment. This Note argues that Congress has authority under the 13th Amendment to reinvigorate the civil rights remedy in the VAWA. This Note compares antebellum slavery to domestic violence to demonstrate how the 13th Amendment's prohibition of slavery provides a source of congressional authority for the VAWA's civil rights remedy