Thursday, September 11, 2008

See for yourself

Earlier today, the No Man reported on today's Senate Judiciary Committee passage of the Equal Justice for United States Military Personnel Act, which would give the Supremes statutory cert jurisdiction to review any case granted OR DENIED by CAAF. Here's a link to the bill's scintillating consideration by a committee of the organization that likes to call itself the world's greatest deliberative body. The committee's consideration of S. 2052 starts at 35:28 and the bill has won unanimous approval without amendment by 36:00.


Norbert Basil MacLean III said...

And it only took four plus years to get to this point. Congress was officially informed of this inequity in the law by me and by Heller Ehrman LLP in March of 2004. We proposed the language, which both the House and Senate bills have adopted. This should have been dealt with in the 108th or 109th Congress. I certainly hope that this moves through both Houses of the 110th Congress and goes to the President for signature this year. There is absolutey no excuse to allow enemy combatants access to our high court and then turn around and shut out 90 percent of all court-martialed service members whose cases are reviewed by CAAF.

Notwithstanding, but the American Bar Association issued its report and resolution in August 2006. Why did it take another two years for 32 seconds of a Congressional committee's time? Politics aside, this is a fundamental issue of due process. As I said in my op-ed piece in Wednesday's LA Times if we are going to send our citizens who serve in uniform off to far away places to promote our democratic way of life - at the very minimum they deserve full procedural due process protections here at home. This includes access to our nation's highest court. Times have changed since the late 1700s. I can understand good order and discipline; however, if you are going to take away civil rights of a service member you convict by courts-martial (i.e. right to vote in some states, right to bear arms, loss of right to have certain professional licenses, right to hold public office, etc.) at the bare minimum you should have proper due process protections in place that all other citizens enjoy - even illegal aliens, those former service members prosecuted under MEJA, and the worst of the worst enemy combatants have access to SCOTUS. Why shouldn't those who serve to protect and defend us?

As a dual national (American-Australian) it offends me that it's taken this long for the American government to review this issue. In my other home country of Australia we permit our citizens that serve in uniform access to our High Court of Australia if a member of our Australian Defence Force is court-martialed. In this regard, America seems behind the times. Many democracies to include Australia, Canada, Israel, and the U.K. all afford full procedural due process for their troops in accessing those nation's highest courts.

While the Senate Judiciary only gave 32 seconds of time to this issue today. I'm glad they did so. And I hope the House Judiciary acts quickly on the House bill.

Norbert Basil MacLean III said...

CORRECTION: I meant to say "90 percent of all court-martialed service members whose cases are denied review or relief by CAAF."