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It was a one-two punch for states’ rights at the Supreme Court on Jan. 11.The morning began with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor announcing, in quiet,measured tones, that Congress had exceeded its power in applying the AgeDiscrimination in Employment Act to state and local government employers.Moments later, the justices turned their attention to another case andanother congressional enactment — the Violence Against Women Act, oneprovision of which allows victims of gender-based violence to sue theirassailants in federal court. After an hour of contentious oral argument, itappeared that provision too was headed for the dustbin, a victim of thecourt’s federalism juggernaut.

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