In a 1999 legislative vote, then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama was the sole state senator to not vote for for a bill that would protect sexual assault victims from having the details of their cases revealed publicly.
On May 11 of that year, Obama voted “present” on a bill, ultimately made law, that allows victims of sex crimes to request that their cases be sealed from public view following a criminal conviction. Illinois Senate voting records show that Obama was the only senator who did not vote in favor of the bill.
Obama’s unique objection to voting for a bill meant to protect victims of sex crimes is a substantial departure from the picture he has attempted to paint for women voters.
The future president, it was reported then, questioned the bill’s constitutionality.
The legislation’s intent was to prevent public consumption of the explicit details of sex crimes without “good cause.”
“Under the bill, the trials involving sex crimes would remain open, but upon a conviction, a victim of a sex crime could ask a state’s attorney to petition a judge to seal the records of the case,” reporter Joe Mahr wrote for The State Journal-Register. “If the judge agreed, the public could not open those records unless someone petitioned the court and showed good cause.”