27 January 2010

House Judiciary favorably reports Equal Justice for Our Military Act

[UPDATED]

Today the full U.S. House Judiciary Committee, by voice vote, favorably reported, out to the full House, the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2009, H.R. 569, as amended in the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.

Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX); Howard Coble (R-NC); and Thomas Rooney (R-FL) spoke against the bill. Congressman Hank Johnson (D-GA) spoke in favor of the bill.

The opponents of the bill referred to communications from the Department of Defense in the George W. Bush administration in opposing H.R. 569 citing limited resources and the possible unknown consequences of enacting the bill.

Rep. Johnson disagreed with the costs citing expert testimony of Washington, DC attorney Dwight Sullivan at last year's hearing on HR 569 in the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy. Mr. Sullivan's opening statement of last year's hearing can be found here.

Florida Republican, Rep. Rooney, who is a former U.S. Army judge advocate, strongly spoke against the bill, indicating that when you join the military you sacrifice certain rights. However, Rooney failed to reconcile the inequity in permitting enemy combatants access to the U.S. Supreme Court while denying servicemembers who capture those enemies the same high court access.

The bill enjoys broad support from military veterans organizations and legal advocacy associations. The American Bar Association, District of Columbia Bar Association, Fleet Reserve Association, Jewish War Veterans, Military Officers Association of America, and National Institute of Military Justice are some of the groups that support H.R. 569.

[Note: Rep. Rooney made a false statement that I had renounced my U.S. citizenship. I have since emailed and faxed a letter to Rep. Rooney indicating that I have never renounced my U.S. citizenship and I have requested that he retract his statement and issue an apology to me.]

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