Subcommittee Rejects Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Sexual Assault Bill

Subcommittee Rejects Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Sexual Assault Bill

A subcommittee established by the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act released findings criticizing Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) push to “remove commanders’ authority in military sexual assault crimes.”

Gillibrand argues that her bill would “strengthen the belief that the military justice system is fair,” thereby creating an atmosphere in which more personnel feel confident to report sexual assaults in the first place.

However, according to the National Journal, eight of the nine subcommittee members did not agree. Instead they said “the evidence does not support a conclusion that removing authority to convene courts-martial from senior commanders will reduce the incidence of sexual assault or increase reporting of sexual assaults in the Armed Forces.”

The lone dissenting subcommittee member was University of California Hastings College of Law professor Elizabeth Hillman. In a statement separate from the majority opinion, she said commanders “are neither essential nor well-suited for their current role in the legal process of criminal prosecution.”

Outside of the subcommittee, one of Gillibrand’s most staunch opponents is fellow Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). McCaskill has “a dueling proposal” designed to change military sexual assault proceedings from another angle. She says the subcommittee’s rejection of Gillibrand’s plan “must inform any future debate about alternative proposals.”

Follow AWR Hawkins on Twitter @AWRHawkins.