Quietly, U.S. moves to block lawsuits by military families

By Andrew Cohen

January 31, 2012

Politicians and bureaucrats of all persuasions typically trip over themselves when it comes to praising the values and virtues, the courage and the sacrifice, of America's military families. East Coast. West Coast. Red State. Blue State. Democrats. Republicans. It doesn't matter. Everyone wants to stand up in public and say that brave and stoic military families should get the best that America can offer (cue the applause). Take the first lady herself, Michelle Obama, who has worked consistently with and for these families since 2009.

Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks on America, Mrs. Obama wrote in USA Today:

As we reaffirm our commitment to hold dear the heroism, strength and compassion we saw on Sept. 11, let's also pledge to keep our military families in our hearts long after this anniversary has passed. These men, women and children have served valiantly in the decade since that fateful day. Now it's up to us to serve them as well.

Amen. But while public officials are out waving the flag toward these families, federal lawyers in court are now quietly trying to expand the U.S. government's legal immunity from exposure to medical malpractice claims brought by those very same military folks. Now, the feds want the courts to recognize a bold application of an old doctrine -- an already heavily criticized old doctrine -- that would bar many plaintiffs, whose loved ones serve their country, from exercising the right merely to be able to present the substance of their claims at trial.

Worse, Congress has consistently refused over the past 60 years to ensure that courthouse doors remain open to military personnel and their families. In one recent iteration of this battle, in 2009, it was reported that congressional Republicans refused to go along because doing so it would allow more malpractice cases to get to trial, a goal many of those very same Republicans find contrary to their so-called "tort reform" agenda. It's a legal issue, it's a political issue, and its a moral one: How much do we really care about these families?

Read more at The Atlantic.


By Andrew Cohen

January 31, 2012

http://www.govexec.com/defense/2012/01/quietly-us-moves-block-lawsuits-military-families/41051/