|Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D.-NY)|
The Military Justice Improvement Act would take the prosecution of sexual assault and other serious crimes, such as murder, out of the chain of command. It would keep those crimes in the military justice system, but put the decision to prosecute them into the hands of actual military prosecutors who are trained to deal with complex legal issues.
This change would ensure that survivors of sexual assault — and the alleged perpetrators of those crimes — are both afforded the due process that they are entitled to under our Constitution. And it would in no way impede a commander’s ability to use their non-judicial authorities when appropriate or take action for military-specific crimes, like a soldier going AWOL. In fact, many experts believe that these changes would free commanders of conflicting responsibilities, improve their ability to maintain good order and discipline, and help them keep the climate under their command free of sexual harassment.
The Military Justice Improvement Act is supported by progressive Democrats, conservative Republicans, and plenty in between. The most recent cosponsor to join is Sen. Tammy Duckworth from Illinois — a retired lieutenant colonel who was wounded flying combat missions over Iraq. It is supported by high-ranking former military officials, some of our nation’s leading veterans’ organizations, and expert legal organizations. So let’s do the right thing and pass this bipartisan bill.