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President Obama signed Thursday the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which was originally passed in 1994 under the leadership of then Sen. Joe Biden.
The law has been widely touted as effective in increasing government prosecution and conviction rates in crimes of violence against women.
Among other things it created a federal rape shield law to prevent offenders from using victims’ past conduct against them, mandated that victims not have to pay for rape exams and provided training for hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges, and personnel each year.
The reauthorization also closed a loophole in the law that left many Native American women without the protection afforded to others, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
Here in Mississippi, the law results in about $5 million a year for several programs to deal with rape and other forms of domestic violence.
The law enjoyed strong bi-partisan support, as it should have. Mississippi’s two senators, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker voted for it. So did Representatives Bennie Thompson and Gregg Harper.
But our own congressman, Rep. Alan Nunnelee joined Rep. Steven Palazzo in voting against it. That is troubling to us and should be troubling to everyone in this congressional district.
Nunnelee seems to be increasingly on the fringe of responsible government, even within his own political party. It’s not the place to be.