Rep. Susan Davis Introduces Bill to Give Members of Military Full Access to Supreme Court

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Washington, DC, June 6, 2017 | comments

The words on the United States Supreme Court building read “Equal Justice Under Law.”  Yet some servicemembers are denied access to our nation’s highest court.  To correct this inequity in the military justice system, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA) introduced legislation to grant these service members access to the Supreme Court.

“The right to due process is a pillar of our judicial system, said Davis, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “It’s unjust to deny members of our Armed Forces the right to appeal to the Supreme Court as they fight and sacrifice to preserve this very system. The disparity with which defendants and the government are treated under the current law is an inequity that should be rectified.”

The Equal Justice for Our Military Act would grant servicemembers the right to appeal for Supreme Court review in cases where they face dismissal, discharge, or confinement for a year or more. It would also allow the Supreme Court discretionary review of certain cases.

Under current law, a servicemember may only petition the Supreme Court for review in death penalty cases, or in cases that have first been reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. The CAAF only grants a review in 20 percent of cases where a petition is filed. In the remaining 80 percent of cases, the accused is barred from even applying for Supreme Court review.

In contrast, the Judge Advocate General is guaranteed the ability to appeal to the Supreme Court when a case is decided in favor of the servicemember.

In the 110th Congress, the Equal Justice for our Military Act was passed in the House and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously. The full Senate did not act on the bill. 

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