Friday, January 20, 2017

New U.S. administration takes office at noon

Donald J. Trump succeeds Barack Obama as President of the United States at noon today. Will the change have any impact on military justice and its reform? Here is a first cut at things to look for:
  • Who will be general counsel of the Department of Defense? The GC's power over military justice is limited but he or she could still be influential.
  • The Manual for Courts-Martial will have to be amended to accommodate the Military Justice Act of 2016, including such critical matters as the provision of uniform tours of duty (dare we call them terms of office?) for military judges. Will the next round of changes -- or the process by which they are generated -- be different from what they would otherwise have been given the change of administration?
  • What will be the new administration's position with respect to sexual assault in the armed forces? Will it take further action or will it roll things back?
  • Who will be the service general counsels? They can be influential in overseeing the boards for correction of military and naval records.
  • Will the new administration undertake any military justice initiatives that require legislation, such as finally fixing the indefensible 30+ year old denial of access to the Supreme Court in the numerous court-martial cases in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) denies discretionary review?
  • Who will President Trump appoint to succeed CAAF Chief Judge Charles E. "Chip" Erdmann, whose term expires on July 31, 2017?
  • Who will be the Solicitor General, an official who plays a major role in military cases before the Supreme Court? Will the new SG have any background in military justice?
  • Will the new administration shift the current military commission cases to the Article III civilian courts, or will it stay the current course?
  • Will the new administration decrease or increase the detainee population at Guantanamo Bay Naval Station?
  • Will there be any effect on military capital cases? No death sentence can be carried out without the affirmative approval of the President.
  • What will be President Trump's clemency policy for military cases?
Can you think of other military justice issues that might be affected by the change of administration? Comments are welcome (real names only, of course).

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