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Letters to the 107th Congress

July 23, 2001

The Honorable Bob Stump
Chairman
Committee on Armed Services
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Ike Skelton
Ranking Member
Committee on Armed Services
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairman Stump and Representative Skelton:

I am writing on behalf of the American Bar Association to express our opposition to Section 506 of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002 (S. 1155) which addresses the "Review of Actions of Selection Boards." A similar provision was excluded from the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2001 (Pub. L. No: 106-398), during conference negotiations last year.

As you know, members of the armed services and veterans have devoted their lives to defending our nation and its principles. It stands to reason that they should enjoy the same benefits as other citizens, including the right to have their grievances heard and addressed in federal court. Section 506 would abridge this right by restricting federal judicial review of military selection board decisions. A person challenging the action of the selection board would not be entitled to judicial relief unless the person had been considered by a special selection board or the Secretary concerned had denied such consideration.

Section 506 would remove jurisdiction from federal courts for any claims of an officer or veteran for failure of selection, until all administrative actions first have been exhausted with the respective service Secretary. As a result, service members and veterans would have a difficult time challenging arbitrary, capricious or unconstitutional military selection board decisions.

Section 506 would have far-reaching and drastic consequences. As a result, last year the ABA adopted policy opposing legislation, such as Section 506, that restricts or modifies the jurisdiction of federal courts or available remedies in cases involving military selection boards, unless and until Congress has had the opportunity to hold hearings on the issue.

As the world's largest voluntary professional association, with over 400,000 members, the American Bar Association believes that Section 506 would be damaging to members of the military and veterans. As a result, we urge you to oppose Section 506 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 (S. 1155), until Congress has held hearings on the review of the actions of military selection boards.

Sincerely,

Robert D. Evans
Director, Governmental Affairs Office

cc: Members of the Committee

107th Congress Letters Home

AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION
Governmental Affairs Office
740 Fifteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
ph: 202-662-1760
fx: 202-662-1762

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