Thursday, July 26, 2007

Representative Davis's floor statement

From yesterday's Congressional Record:




of California

in the House of Representatives

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mrs. DAVIS of California. Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2007--a bill that will give our servicemembers equal access to the United States Supreme Court. We all know that when American men and women decide to serve their nation in the Armed Forces, they make many sacrifices--from lost time with their families to irreplaceable losses of lives and limbs. However, most Americans are not aware that active-duty servicemembers also sacrifice one of the fundamental legal rights that all civilian Americans enjoy.

Under current law, members of the military who are convicted of offenses under the military justice system do not have the legal right to appeal their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court. It is unjust to deny the members of our Armed Forces access to our system of justice as they fight for our freedom around the world. They deserve better.

As the Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Military Personnel, a long-time advocate for servicemembers, and a representative of San Diego, one of the largest military communities in the nation, I feel an obligation to fight to ensure that the members of our military are treated fairly. Current law weights the playing field in favor of the government, granting the automatic right to Supreme Court review to the Department of Defense whenever a servicemember wins his or her case, but denying servicemembers that same right when the government wins a conviction against them in almost all situations. This is just unfair. In the 109th Congress, I introduced legislation to grant our men and women in uniform access to the Supreme Court in certain situations.

Today, I am re-introducing this legislation in expanded form, to allow service members in a broader set of circumstances the right to Supreme Court appeal. This approach has been endorsed by the American Bar Association, the Military Officers Association of America, and many other advocates. I believe strongly that it is fundamentally unjust to deny those who serve on behalf of our country in the military one of the basic rights afforded to all other Americans. I hope that you will stand with me in support of this legislation to attain equal treatment for those who fight for us.

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