Sunday, November 12, 2006

New military justice players on Capitol Hill

By now, everyone knows that Carl Levin will be the new chairman of SASC and Ike Skelton will be the new chairman of HASC. But to military justice practitioners, it is also important to know who will be chairing the personnel subcommittees, through which military justice legislation typically passes.

The new chairman of the SASC Personnel Subcommittee should be Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska. Senator Nelson is a lawyer and former governor of Nebraska. According to Wikipedia, he has the second most conservative voting record of any Senate Democrat. See

The new chairman of the HASC Personnel Subcommittee should be Representative Vic Snyder of Arkansas's Second Congressional District. I've had some limited interactions with Representative Snyder which left me extremely impressed with him. He interupted his college education to serve a year as an enlisted Marine in Vietnam. He then finished college and medical school before moving to Arkansas and practicing medicine there. He later completed law school as well before being elected to Congress.

Significantly, Representative Susan Davis of California's 53rd Congressional District is also on the HASC Personnel Subcommittee. During the last Congress, Representative Davis sponsored H.R. 1364, which would have expanded Supreme Court jurisdiction over CAAF decisions. Significantly, Representative Ike Skelton (soon to be Chairman Ike Skelton) was a co-sponsor. However, probably because the bill amended 28 U.S.C. 1259, it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property, where it seems to have lapsed into a coma. The new chairman of that subcommittee should be Representative Howard Berman, from California's 28th Congressional District.

It will be interesting to see if any military justice reform measures gain traction in the next Congress.

--Dwight Sullivan

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