Thomas dissents in navy rape case, says Supreme Court docket ought to permit navy members to sue authorities

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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 on Monday dissented from the Supreme Court docket’s choice to not hear the case of a West Level cadet who says she was raped and needs to sue the federal authorities alleging it did not do sufficient to forestall sexual assault on campus. 

The lady, 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 Court docket precedent. In that case, the courtroom dominated that members of the navy cannot sue the federal government underneath the Federal Tort Claims Act. 

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

Thomas mentioned 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 state of affairs like a sexual assault at a navy 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 circumstances he thinks had been determined incorrectly, advocated for the courtroom to overturn one other precedent on Monday. This time, he mentioned the Supreme Court docket 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)

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Subsequently, Thomas mentioned, the 1950 case known as Feres v. United States and by extension Doe’s case had been wrongly determined. 

“Beneath our precedent, if two Pentagon staff— one civilian and one a servicemember—are hit by a bus within the Pentagon 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 rising momentum in Congress and amongst activist teams to extend protections towards sexual assault within the navy, with many citing alarming reviews of widespread sexual violence. 5 separate teams of activists weighed in supporting Doe with briefs to the Supreme Court docket 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 navy 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 navy is an epidemic and it is clear that the present system just 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 mentioned in a press release. 

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“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 navy—or wherever else—and it’s miles previous time we take extra steps towards stopping and decreasing these heart-wrenching crimes.”

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

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

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

Thomas has particularly mentioned 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 change into in legislation and what number of depend on the ruling to at the present time.

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

Thomas then cited many different occasions the Supreme Court docket has overruled its previous circumstances, together with Brown v. Board of Training, which overruled Plessy v. Ferguson. 

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

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



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