Supreme Court to hear arguments over constitutionality of Violence Against Women Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Supreme Court will hear arguments tomorrowin a lawsuit filed by a former Virginia Tech student against two footballplayers whom she says raped her in 1994.

At issue is the constitutionality of the federal Violence Against WomenAct of 1994, which allows victims of gender-motivated violence to sue theirattackers for damages.

Christy Brzonkala sued Antonio J. Morrison and James L. Crawford, bothformer members of Virginia Tech’s football team, under the act after acampus judiciary panel failed to levy serious punishment against eitherof the men.

An en bancpanel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuitruled in March that Brzonkala, the first person to file a lawsuit underthe act, had stated a valid civil rights claim based on the act but thatthe law was unconstitutional under both the Commerce Clause and Section5 of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Brzonkala also filed a separate lawsuit against Virginia Tech underTitle IX, a federal anti-discrimination law, arguing that the university’shandling of her case created a hostile environment on campus. As part ofthe suit, which is currently pending in federal district court, Brzonkalais seeking an injunction forbidding Virginia Tech’s campus court from hearingfelony sexual assault cases without first filing an incident report withlocal police.

The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision in the case beforethe end of June.

For more information on the two cases, see the Securityon Campus Web site.