When Republican politicians and portions of their Tea Party base are accused of being insensitive ethnically, culturally, by gender, by sexual preferences, or racially, more so than the public at large, they usually scream with righteous indignation. Yet they continue to overtly display these attitudes both from constituents in their town hall meetings as well as in their legislations.
Last week, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was one of 22 Republican male Senators that voted against the Violence Against Women Act. During a town hall meeting in Indianola, Iowa, Senator Grassley did not disappoint. He was able to justify his no vote on the Violence Against Women Act in stark racist terms.
Grassley in his own words (ThinkProgess)
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.
Of course in his frame of mind he was just stating a fact as he sees it; Native Americans are incapable of holding fair trials. In the Senator’s mind, could a Hispanic or Black jury hold a fair trial for a white person? Based on his assessment it is fair to infer that he does not believe so. Such is the mindset of many in his party that seem to be documented almost on a weekly basis.
That Grassley is a Senator creating and voting on laws that affect all Americans while having little knowledge of the constitution speaks volume of the caricature many elected politicians in Congress have become. ThinkProgress made the reality quite clear.
There is actually no requirement that juries reflect “society as a whole.” The Sixth Amendment requires juries to be drawn from the “State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed,” and Supreme Court decisions establish that criminal defendants also have a right to a jury which is “drawn from a fair cross section of the community,” where the trial court convenes to hear their case. But this does not entitle anyone to be tried by a jury that reflects the whole of American society.
In order to solve a problem one must acknowledge that there is a problem. When different perspectives are brought in a Party can maintain relevancy. Because the Republican Party has become insular, it is unable to be introspective. Unchanged the Party’s demise is closely approaching.
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