Three days after VAWA passed in the House, The Heritage Foundation’s Senior Legal Research Fellow Paul J. Larkin published an article entitled “Send in the Lawyers: The House Passes the Senate’s Violence Against Women Act.” In his article, Larkin claimed that “various commentators have criticized” the bill’s tribal provisions due to unconstitutionality.
The two articles he cited as being from various commentators, seen here and here, were written by himself. He also cited a recent article published in the BYU Journal of Public Law. The article was co-authored by himself and Joseph Luppino-Esposito. In the article, Luppino-Esposito is credited as being a former Visiting Legal Fellow for the Heritage Foundation. Luppino-Esposito’s LinkedIn profile confirms this position, and adds that he served as an Associate at the Charles Koch Institute.
Larkin also cites Tom Gedes, an Indian Law and Order Commissioner. Gedes was appointed by House Speaker John Boehner, who surprised many when he brought VAWA up for a vote despite Republican opposition.
The speed at which Larkin called for legal action against VAWA after it passed in the House has left some speculating that Republican lawmakers knew that the bill would ultimately be challenged. The Journal of Public Law article written by Larkin and Luppino-Esposito mentions developments in VAWA that occurred on December 3, 2012, in a citation on page 3.
Scott Cameron, Associate Dean of External Relations at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, was reached for comment at 4 PM on Monday. He reported that the Journal of Public Law is a student-run publication, and that he had left them a phone message requesting that they call with details on when the article had been submitted. He also supplied the phone number at which the student group can be reached.
Additional information on how long Larkin had been preparing to challenge VAWA, and what politicians knew about his plans before voting, will be posted as it emerges.
Tom Coburn (R-OK) introduced the amendment that would have stripped tribal provisions from VAWA. He has spoken at a Heritage Foundation event, and has a major presence on the Heritage Foundation website.
Lauren Chief Elk, co-founder of Save Wįyąbi Project, said of Larkin and his colleagues: “I’m certain they already know [that] the tribal provisions are constitutional, but this is a straw man…to take our attention away from [the real] point: they want their workers and themselves to be able to rape Indian women on tribal land with impunity. They don’t want their workers to go to jail and they don’t want to go to jail. We have to always bring the conversation back to this point.”