On Thursday, October 3rd, the Widener Law Journal
and the Widener Journal of Law, Economics and Race
sponsored a special Pizza and Policy in the Pit Event in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Judith Lewis, the Legal Director for the Barbara J. Hart Justice Center in Scranton, PA was the featured speaker. Ms. Lewis discussed the Justice Center's efforts to challenge municipal nuisance ordinances that have the unintended consequence of seeing victims of domestic violence being evicted from their apartments. While good intentioned, these ordinances – aimed at fighting urban blight – require landlords to evict tenants if the police have been summoned to a rental property a proscribed number of times over a certain length of time.
As an unintended consequence, such an ordinance can lead to domestic violence victims who are either homeless or scared to report crimes to law enforcement. Lewis explained to the audience such nuisance ordinances potentially violate the Violence against Women Act, both federal and state Fair Housing Acts, and the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution.
For an example of the legal arguments made, see the court documents posted on the American Civil Liberties Union website in regard to Briggs v. Borough of Norristown at https://www.aclu.org/womens-rights/briggs-v-borough-norristown-et-al