U.S. Senators Who Support Rape

4 11 2009
Jamie Leigh Jones

Jones survived a gang rape by fellow employees of KBR (Halliburton)

In 2005 KBR, a taxpayer-endowed contractor (as well as the largest non-union construction company) attempted to cover up employee-on-employee gang rape by locking up the victim in a shipping container without food and water and threatening her with reprisals if she reported the incident. And that’s OK.

Newly elected Senator Al Franken introduced an amendment that would forbid federal contractors from forcing victims of sexual assault, battery and discrimination to submit to binding arbitration (where a third-party typically chosen by the contractor adjudicates) and thereby prohibiting them from going to court.

And 30 (t-h-i-r-t-y) senators voted against it.

Credit new Senator Al Franken however, for introducing an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would punish contractors if they “restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.” You’d think that this would be a no-brainer, actually, but that didn’t stop [Senator] Jeff Sessions from labeling Franken’s effort a “political attack directed at Halliburton.” Franken, of course, pointed out that his amendment would apply broadly, to all contractors…

Some senators and their supporters argue that the reason they voted against such an amendment was that it was unenforceable. Well… so what?

Who cares if the amendment is unenforceable? What unenforceable really means is that not every occurrance of the action can be prevented. Other examples of this include flag burning, gay sex, and speeding. None can be successfully prevented, and yet much can be done legally to a) disuade people from doing it and b) make peoples lives very difficult if they do.

Sometimes amendments are unenforceable because the U.S. Supreme court strikes down a similar law in another state, as was the case with Alabama’s 1901 ban on interracial marriage.  The law was unenforceable as of 1967, but an amendment to eliminate it from Alabama’s state constitution in 1999 was still unanimously voted upon and put into effect.

It starts with the idea and journeys through what can be done in both legislative and judicial branches of our government. If more legislation is needed in order to arrive at an enforceable amendment, so be it. But why would you vote against something you agree with just because you believe it is not 100% enforceable? If there was an amendment to save all puppies from drowning, would you vote against it because, jeeze, we’ll never be able to enforce that? No. You vote ‘yay’ and go on to support initiatives that align with that point of view.

The silver lining is that on September 15, 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of appeals ruled in favor of Jones, in a 2 to 1 ruling, and found that her alleged injuries were not, in fact, in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by the contract. (Please note: 1 judge actually ruled against that.) In addition, in October of 2009 the Franken Amendment did pass, but it was not unanimous as it should have been. As usual, see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for the funny version.

The following is a list of Senators who voted against the Franken Amendment. All 30 are Republicans who were elected to office by voters in 19 states. More than half of those voters were women and all of those voters are able to be raped, assaulted, and discriminated against. If it were up to the boys and girls on this list (yes, there are women who voted against this, too.) those voters would never see the inside of a court room.

Rogues Gallery:

Alexander, Lamar – (R – TN)  Class II
455 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4944

Barrasso, John – (R – WY)  Class I
307 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6441

Bond, Christopher S. – (R – MO)  Class III
274 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5721

Brownback, Sam – (R – KS)  Class III
303 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6521

Bunning, Jim – (R – KY)  Class III
316 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 
(202) 224-4343

Burr, Richard – (R – NC)  Class III
217 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3154

Chambliss, Saxby – (R – GA)  Class II
416 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3521

Coburn, Tom – (R – OK)  Class III
172 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5754

Cochran, Thad – (R – MS)  Class II
113 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5054

Corker, Bob – (R – TN)  Class I
185 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3344

Cornyn, John – (R – TX)  Class II
517 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510 
(202) 224-2934

Crapo, Mike – (R – ID)  Class III
239 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6142

DeMint, Jim – (R – SC)  Class III
340 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6121

Ensign, John – (R – NV)  Class I
119 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6244

Enzi, Michael B. – (R – WY)  Class II
379A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3424

Graham, Lindsey – (R – SC)  Class II
290 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5972

Gregg, Judd – (R – NH)  Class III
201 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3324

Inhofe, James M. – (R – OK)  Class II
453 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4721

Isakson, Johnny – (R – GA)  Class III
120 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-3643

Johanns, Mike – (R – NE)  Class II
404 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4224

Kyl, Jon – (R – AZ)  Class I
730 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4521

McCain, John – (R – AZ)  Class III
241 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2235

McConnell, Mitch – (R – KY)  Class II
361A RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2541

Risch, James E. – (R – ID)  Class II
483 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2752

Roberts, Pat – (R – KS)  Class II
109 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4774

Sessions, Jeff – (R – AL)  Class II
335 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4124

Shelby, Richard C. – (R – AL)  Class III
304 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-5744

Thune, John – (R – SD)  Class III
493 RUSSELL SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-2321

Vitter, David – (R – LA)  Class III
516 HART SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-4623

Wicker, Roger F. – (R – MS)  Class I
555 DIRKSEN SENATE OFFICE BUILDING WASHINGTON DC 20510
(202) 224-6253

What is a class? – Article I, section 3 of the Constitution requires the Senate to be divided into three classes for purposes of elections.  Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class—approximately one-third of the Senators—face election or reelection.  Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2013, Class II in 2015, and Class III in 2011.

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