Senators Kick Off Campaign to Restrict Military Legal Authority

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and a bipartisan group of senators on Nov. 6 announced the launch of a two-week campaign pushing for legislation that would limit military leaders’ legal authority in cases of sexual assault. The group is advocating for the legislation to be added to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to be debated on the Senate floor before Thanksgiving recess. The Military Justice Improvement Act calls for shifting the authority to oversee the prosecution of cases involving military sexual assault from the chain of command to an independent military justice system. According to a release put out by Gillibrand’s office, 46 senators, including 38 Democrats and eight Republicans, already publicly support the bill. “As the best and strongest military in history, our men and women in uniform deserve a justice system worthy of their excellence,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a proponent of the bill. “Our legislation is vital to victim trust and confidence in military justice.” Senior defense leaders have argued the authority should remain under the chain of command, though they acknowledge DOD must do more to combat sexual assaults in the military. (See also Plague of Sexual Assaults)