Grassley Suddenly Concerned About Racial Makeup of Juries

Grassley Suddenly Concerned About Racial Makeup of Juries February 25, 2013

Sen. Charles Grassley is trying to explain his vote against the Violence Against Women Act and inventing new and fascinating arguments. Like if a white man was accused of assaulting a Native American woman, he might get tried by a jury of Native Americans — and that would be terribly unfair.

GRASSLEY: One provision that non-Native Americans can be tried in tribal court. And why is that a big thing? Because of the constitutionality of it, for two reasons. One, you know how the law is, that if you have a jury, the jury is supposed to be a reflection of society. […] So you get non-Indians, let me say to make it easy, you get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted. They aren’t prosecuted. So the idea behind [VAWA] is we’ll try them in tribal court. But under the laws of our land, you got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole, and on an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right? So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.

I bet if you suggested that an all-white jury would be unfair to a black defendant accused of a crime against a white woman wouldn’t be fair because white people can’t give a fair trial, Grassley would accuse you of race-baiting and being a bleeding heart liberal.

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  • grumpyoldfart

    Question: Is Grassley representing a minority viewpoint, or do the majority agree with him?

  • macallan

    He’s begging for a Bryan Fischer Award.

  • Don’t tribal courts have jurisdiction on crimes that take place on the reservation regardless fo VAWA? (They can also let the feds handle it.)

  • Phillip IV

    Well, the GOP is evolving, it seems: they’ve gone from “Won’t somebody think of the children!” to “Won’t somebody think of the non-indians who go into reservations to violate women!”. Remind me again why they have such a hard time appealing to female voters?

  • Lowpro

    Wait a second, you mean he opposed the legislation because it allows the tribal court legal protection given to every other freakin’ court?!

    If you commit violence and are tried the jury will be peers of the native area (if you commit violence in Montgomery you’re tried by those who live in Montgomery etc) so why the hell would this tribal court thing matter at all?!

    Man this is a dumb reason -.-

  • frankb

    Unfortunately there are a lot of Iowans who might agree with him, my brother-in-law for one. I refuse to have any more to do with him after he answered my email saying he had to vote for Clinton’s impeachment.

  • H’es just having a hard time processing the fact that not everybody is just like him.

  • Ichthyic

    I refuse to have any more to do with him after he answered my email saying he had to vote for Clinton’s impeachment.

    pardons, but I imagine people like that follow the right wing newsfeeds regularly to see when and why Obama will be impeached with eager anticipation.

    the right wingers never recovered from Nixon. Most of them always mistakenly thought it was all due to a personal vendetta against the man, instead of the fact that he suffered paranoid delusions.

    maybe when that generation finally dies off completely…

    naw, they’ve probably infected all their kids with it too.

  • yazikus

    I wish these explanations were more broadly covered/televised (maybe they are and I’m missing them), but I think that if more people understood that this is the kind of thinking that is happening at the top of the Republican party, they might be less inclined to vote for them. I mean, really, as has been pointed out, this was an argument made against ending apartheid in South Africa, that a white man would never receive a fair trial with back jurors.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    @3 – Don’t tribal courts have jurisdiction on crimes that take place on the reservation regardless of VAWA?

    Nope … it’s a confused mess of tribal, state, county and federal jurisdictions. It depends on exactly where the crime occurred on the rez, and the tribal member status of the persons involved. Tribal courts only have jurisdiction over tribal members.

    In a crime involving a defendant who is not a tribal member, the US Attorneys for that state are responsible for prosecuting.

  • Nathair

    He is absolutely right. “You get non-Indians going into a reservation and violating a woman. They need to be prosecuted.” Under VAWA they would be prosecuted and they would be tried in front of a jury which would probably be largely composed of Native Americans who would probably take a very, very dim view of the crime. He just loses me with how this would be a bad or an unjust thing.

  • dan4

    @11: Yeah, I was puzzled by that, too. I wonder if Grassley awkwardly misspoke, and meant “accused of violating a woman,” (which doesn’t automatically indicate guilt), instead of “violating a woman” (which does).

  • neuroguy

    As much as I enjoy this blog and others at FTB, there sometimes seems to be a reflexive knee-jerk reaction whenever anyone in a privileged group complains of unfairness, as if such a complaint could not possibly be justified. This is quite myopic IMO. Not only is it factually incorrect, but it misses the point that a very powerful way in which members of privileged groups can learn empathy for those less so is the personal experience of unfairness.

    Regarind the issue here, either Sen. Grassley’s argument is correct or it is not on the merits; if indeed he would not use the same argument for blacks tried before an all-white jury (which hasn’t been shown here), it would make him a hypocrite, yes, but not necessarily wrong. Attempting to use this as an argument is the tu quoque fallacy.

    And frankly, Sen. Grassley is likely correct. The fact is that the Supreme Court has ruled (Batson v. Kentucky) that while there is not a per se right to a jury with a given racial composition, it is a violation of Equal Protection if jurors are systemically excluded on the basis of race (which is what happened in the Batson case when peremptory challenges were used). Now in tribal courts, at least in some, juror eligibility is based on race (e.g. you must be a member of the tribe residing somewhere in the County or else an Indian living on the reservation). Here’s an example: It is not based merely on residential location, as happens in regular state courts. IMO this is Constitutionally extremely problematic at best.

    Now, I could be wrong, and if someone wants to present a legal argument or precedent, I’d be willing to listen. But if all you can come up with is you’re the privileged class so STFU and you must hate women to boot, well then…

  • Ichthyic

    Now, I could be wrong

    you missed the entire issue.

    here we have a man, who instead of addressing what the Violence against Women act is really all about, instead deflects to a hypothetical situation that is entirely irrelevant to it.

    what you should be thinking about is why that ridiculous tactic…

    worked on YOU.

  • Neuroguy:

    Chuck Grassley is a serial liar and hypocrite. He is guilty of much worse than stupidity. And, yes, you are correct in this instance; you are wrong about Grassley.

    This is Chuck on the nomination of Goodwin Liu to the Federal bench:

    “Does [Liu] think we’re the communist-run China? That the government runs everything? That it’s a better place when they put online every week a coal-fired plant to pollute the air, put more carbon dioxide into the air then we do in the United States, and where children are dying because food is poisoned, and consumers aren’t protected, and where every miner in the China coal mines is in jeopardy of losing their lives? That’s how out of place this guy is when he talks about “free enterprise,” “private ownership of property,” and “limited government” being something somehow bad, but if you get government more involved, like they do in China, it’s somehow a better place.”

    See, he’s not really talking about Liu as if he were, y’know, a REAL MurKKKan.

    This link:

    has a nice long list of Chuckie’s likes and dislikes.

    And this is Chuckthefuck on gun control:

    “Well, I think that’s the place in our society where you would study the issue of black violence on blacks,” the Iowa Republican asserted. “Most of those guns are pistols and not the guns that you’re talking about on this program.”

    from here:

    Grassley’s fuckweaselly scum.

  • Neuroguy:

    Sorry, I meant to add that NONE of what I wrote has anything to do with legal stuff. I’m fairly certain that there are a number of legal experts who pretty much laughed Eric Cantor’s comments in the same vein on this subject into oblivitude.

  • dingojack

    Demo – If Grassley needs a nickname, may I suggest: ‘ChucktehFuck’, in the same vein as ‘clusterfuck’.

    🙂 Dingo

  • dingojack:

    Yeah, ChucktehFuck does trip off the tongue AND it’s accurate.

  • thumper1990

    @Lowpro #5

    Man this is a dumb reason

    It’s a racist argument and therefore, by definition, stupid.

  • neuroguy

    @14: You’re still arguing about the motives of Sen. Grassley as if that, in itself, makes his argument wrong. It doesn’t. This is a skeptic forum so I will point out the genetic fallacy when it presents itself.

    BUT, I did a little more research and found that yes, he is wrong. The Bill (S. 1925) passed by the Senate was carefully written to avoid the Constitutional problem I mentioned above. In fact, I would now argue that the bill does not go FAR ENOUGH in protecting the rights of women, since (with a few exceptions) non-Native women do not get the same protections (a non-Native perpetrator against a non-Native woman cannot be tried in tribal court). Anyway, the bill specifically states:

    ‘(d) Rights of Defendants- In a criminal proceeding in which a participating tribe exercises special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction, the participating tribe shall provide to the defendant–

    ‘(1) all applicable rights under this Act;

    ‘(2) if a term of imprisonment of any length may be imposed, all rights described in section 202(c);

    ‘(3) the right to a trial by an impartial jury that is drawn from sources that–

    ‘(A) reflect a fair cross section of the community; and

    ‘(B) do not systematically exclude any distinctive group in the community, including non-Indians; and

    ‘(4) all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution of the United States in order for Congress to recognize and affirm the inherent power of the participating tribe to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over the defendant.

    So, Sen. Grassley is likely right when he says it would be unconstitutional for a defendant to be tried in tribal court if non-Indians were excluded from the jury, but he is either lying through his teeth or grossly ignorant when he claims that that would happen under VAWA. Fair enough?

  • Neuroguy:

    “Fair enough?”

    For me, sure. I’m not certain that other people will agree. OTOH, I doubt that Grassley bothered to read the legislation; that would be part and parcel of giving a fuck about what matters and we can’t have that from the GOP.

  • Ichthyic

    You’re still arguing about the motives of Sen. Grassley as if that, in itself, makes his argument wrong. It doesn’t. This is a skeptic forum so I will point out the genetic fallacy when it presents itself.

    no, read for comprehension.

    I said it was IRRELEVANT.

    try again?

  • Ichthyic

    here, maybe this will help you:

    Grassley’s argument is a red herring.

    your approach to that is to debate whether or not his red herring stinks.

    He baited you, whether you want to admit it or not.