Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has been taking heat for his comments on Native American courts. He defended his vote against the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization by claiming that it would allow all-Native American juries to prosecute non-Native American men who violate women on reservations. All-Native juries wouldn't be fair to non-Natives, he explained.
Some research supports Grassley's idea that an all-Native jury would be biased. "Impartiality is called into question when defendants face juries that include few, if any, members of their race," a recent study claims.
However, Grassley is wrong that VAWA authorizes all-Native juries. The bill actually requires tribal courts to use representative juries: "The participating tribe shall provide to the defendant...an impartial jury that is drawn from sources that reflect a fair cross section of the community [and does] not systematically exclude any distinctive group in the community, including non-Indians." Since 46% of people living on reservations are non-Native, tribal juries should contain non-Native members.
Grassley was one of 22 Republican senators who voted against VAWA, which passed the Senate on Feb 12. The House has released its own version, which excludes Native American courts.
Via the Huffington Post. H/T Politix user PNWest.