Thomas dissents in army rape case, says Supreme Courtroom ought to enable army members to sue authorities


Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday dissented from the Supreme Courtroom’s determination to not hear the case of a West Level cadet who says she was raped and desires to sue the federal authorities alleging it did not do sufficient to stop sexual assault on campus. 

The girl, known as Jane Doe within the case Jane Doe v. United States, was not allowed by decrease courts to sue the federal government due to a 1950 Supreme Courtroom precedent. In that case, the courtroom dominated that members of the army cannot sue the federal government underneath the Federal Tort Claims Act. 

Doe’s attraction to the Supreme Courtroom failed when the courtroom refused to take up her case Monday. However Thomas disagreed together with his colleagues, writing that the 1950 case was incorrect and that the courtroom ought to have taken up the case and overturned it, permitting the lady’s declare to proceed.

Thomas stated the legislation’s small “carve out for military-related claims: these ‘arising out of… combatant actions… throughout a time of warfare,'” was clearly not meant to use to a scenario like a sexual assault at a army academy. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, who has made clear in recent years he has no qualms about overturning past cases he thinks were decided incorrectly, advocated for the court to overturn another precedent on Monday. This time, he said the Supreme Court should overturn a 1950 case that is barring a West Point cadet who says she was raped from suing the government. 

Justice Clarence Thomas, who has made clear lately he has no qualms about overturning previous instances he thinks have been determined incorrectly, advocated for the courtroom to overturn one other precedent on Monday. This time, he stated the Supreme Courtroom ought to overturn a 1950 case that’s barring a West Level cadet who says she was raped from suing the federal government. 
(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)


Due to this fact, Thomas stated, the 1950 case known as Feres v. United States and by extension Doe’s case have been wrongly determined. 

“Underneath our precedent, if two Pentagon workers— one civilian and one a servicemember—are hit by a bus within the Pentagon car parking zone and sue, it might be that solely the civilian would have an opportunity to litigate his declare on the deserves,” Thomas wrote. “Nothing within the textual content of the Act requires this disparate remedy.”

The dissent from Thomas comes amid growing momentum in Congress and amongst activist teams to extend protections in opposition to sexual assault within the army, with many citing alarming stories of widespread sexual violence. 5 separate teams of activists weighed in supporting Doe with briefs to the Supreme Courtroom earlier than it refused to take up the case Monday. 

Plus, a bipartisan group of senators final week launched a invoice to alter how the army handles sexual assault. The coalition included Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; and Mark Kelly, D-Ariz. 

“Sexual assault in our army is an epidemic and it is clear that the present system isn’t working for survivors. Regardless of repeated efforts to guard our men and women in uniform charges of harassment and assault proceed to rise whereas prosecutions decline,” Gillibrand stated in an announcement. 


“As a former fight commander and a survivor of sexual assault, I perceive the traumatic experiences too lots of our service members have confronted,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, additionally a co-sponsor of the invoice, added. “Sexual assault has no place in our army—or anyplace else—and it’s miles previous time we take extra steps towards stopping and lowering these heart-wrenching crimes.”

In response to Gillibrand’s workplace, practically 21,000 army members have been sexually assaulted in 2018. 

Thomas stated Monday that the Supreme Courtroom ought to no less than take up Doe’s case to “make clear the scope of the immunity we now have created” however advocated going a step additional to completely overturn Feres.

The longest-serving justice has turn into extra vocal lately concerning the reality he has no qualms about overturning precedent he believes is incorrect, as different justices proceed to defer to precedent typically. 

Thomas has particularly stated on a number of events he thinks the courtroom ought to take up a problem to Roe v. Wade, the ruling that created a proper to an abortion, and overturn it. That’s regardless of the very fact even different conservative-leaning justices seem reluctant to do the identical, given how embedded it is turn into in legislation and what number of depend on the ruling to today.


“Maybe the Courtroom is hesitant to take up this subject in any respect as a result of it might require twiddling with a 70-year-old precedent that’s demonstrably incorrect,” Thomas wrote of the Feres case on Monday. “But when the Feres doctrine is so incorrect that we can’t work out methods to rein it in, then the higher reply is to bid it farewell.”

Thomas then cited many different instances the Supreme Courtroom has overruled its previous instances, together with Brown v. Board of Schooling, which overruled Plessy v. Ferguson. 

In 2019, Thomas advocated that the Supreme Courtroom revisit Feres within the case of a person who sued the federal government after his spouse died of problems from childbirth in a naval hospital. Late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg additionally stated the courtroom ought to have let the person’s case proceed. 

No different justices joined Thomas on Monday in dissenting from the courtroom’s determination to not take Doe’s case. 

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