Saturday, August 16, 2014

Another GOP vote for military justice reform legislation in the next Congress?

State Sen. Joni Ernst
Iowa State Sen. Joni Ernst, the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate who is supported by former GOP Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, has released a statement supporting Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act. Ms. Ernst has served in the military for over 20 years; she is a National Guard lieutenant colonel and currently commands a battalion.
If the recent changes in law, passed last year, do not make significant progress in the next few months in addressing this pressing problem, when I am sworn into the United States Senate as its first female combat veteran, I will work with Senator Gillibrand and other Senate leaders in seeking bi-partisan support for new legislation.  This legislation must ensure that sexual crimes in the military are both independently investigated and prosecuted.
This will not be an easy challenge. I understand many in my own party in Washington will oppose this plan, as will many in the military and Pentagon. However, this should not be a partisan issue, and as a woman in uniform, I know that we must act now.”
Ernst’s guiding principles:
All sexual assault crimes in our military would be independently investigated and the decision whether to prosecute would be made by an independent, experienced prosecutor who is not in the chain of command for the accused or accuser.
If a decision is made by the independent prosecutor to proceed to trial, the Service Secretary’s office assigns an independent court martial administrator to convene the court martial.
This approach is focused on the epidemic of sexual assault.
Another account says Sen. Ernst's staff claims she is not endorsing Sen. Gillibrand's bill, but the above summary certainly sounds like she agrees with the bill. Her Democratic opponent for retiring Sen. Tom Harkin's seat, Rep. Bruce Braley, has endorsed the measure.


  1. More of a question.
    Does Ms. Ernst- the lieutenant colonel - if elected to Congress, become conflicted and thus must be recused from excercising any court-martial authority within her unit?


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