Friday, March 30, 2018

Dual office-holding, Dalmazzi, and Rear Admiral Jackson

Prof. Steve Vladeck
Global Military Justice Reform contributor Prof. Steve Vladeck (counsel in the Dalmazzi case in the Supreme Court)* has written this column for The Atlantic on the dual office-holding statute and the appointment of Navy admiral (and White House physician) Dr. Ronny Jackson as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Steve observes:
[F]ew modern presidents have surrounded themselves with as many current and former flag officers—including retired General James Mattis as secretary of defense; John Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general, as secretary of homeland security and then White House chief of staff; and H.R. McMaster—a three-star Army general—as the outgoing national-security adviser (who himself succeeded retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn).
He concludes:
Compared to some of the other headline-generating cases the Supreme Court is hearing this term—on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymandering, the travel ban, and public-sector unions, among others—Dalmazzi has largely flown under the radar. But the Jackson nomination helps to underscore the stakes. As a federal appeals court concluded in 1975, the dual-officeholding ban “assure[s] civilian preeminence in government” by “prevent[ing] the military establishment from insinuating itself into the civil branch of government and thereby growing ‘paramount’ to it.” If there really is no remedy for violations of the ban, it is hard to see how the statute could continue to serve that purpose—or stop someone like Trump from filling more and more senior civilian positions throughout the executive branch with active-duty military officers.
* Full disclosure: the Editor is also one of Dalmazzi's attorneys.

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