POLITICS
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Vitter Confronted By Rape Victim Over Franken Amendment Vote

Last month, Senator David Vitter (R-LA) opposed a congressional measure to prohibit the government from working with contractors who deny victims of rape or assault the right to bring their cases to court.

And now, the issue isn't going way. Vitter, who was one of only 30 Republicans who actually voted against the amendment, was pilloried in local newspapers, and has also seen the issue become an early focal point of his re-election contest.

At a town hall meeting this past weekend, meanwhile, the Senator was confronted by a constituent who, after recounting her tale of being raped, demanded to know why he opposed Sen. Al Franken's (D-Minn) amendment.

The exchange was contentious, heart wrenching, and potentially damaging.

WOMAN: It meant everything to me that I was able to put the person who attacked me [behind bars]. And what allowed me to do that was our judicial process. I showed up in court every day to make sure that happen

VITTER: And I'm absolutely supportive of any case like that being prosecuted criminally to the full extent of the law.

WOMAN: But there are rape victims who are being kept silent.

WOMAN: But how can you support [a law] that tells a rape victim that she does not have the right to defend herself?

VITTER: Ma'am The language in question did not say that in any way shape or form.

WOMAN: But it is unconstitutional to have a law that says a woman does not have a right to defend herself.

VITTER: You realize Mr. Obama was against that amendment that his administration was against that amendment

WOMAN: But I'm not asking Obama. I'm asking you.

VITTER: Do you think he's in favor in rape?

WOMAN: I'm asking you Senator. What if it was your daughter who was raped? Would you tell her to be quiet and take it? Would you tell your daughter to be silent?

Vitter's excuse here doesn't exactly hold water. While the Obama Defense Department raised concerns about the reach of the Franken amendment, the White House itself said it supported "the intent" and was working to make sure it was "enforceable."

The Senator has yet to pacify constituents with a satisfying explanation. On Monday morning, the Opelousas, La., Daily World published a rather-scathing editorial taking Vitter to task for his vote.

Let's assume Vitter and his [29] colleagues sincerely believe federal intrusion into employment contracts is a dangerous wrong.

Let's assume the Defense Department and the White House sincerely believe that they had no legal way to intervene.

We're still left with the uneasy feeling that a military adventure on which we embarked to protect Americans has resulted in the victimization of at least one.