Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s bill, the Military Justice Improvement Act, failed by a procedural vote this week in the U.S. Senate. After 26,000 cases of sexual assault were reported in the military in 2010, and less than one in ten being report through the chain of command, Senator Gillibrand sought to bring sexual assaults and other felonies through an independent military justice system. Her effort included Republican Senators such as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul. Even though Senator Gillibrand had 56 cosponsors backing her bill, it was five votes short of advancement. The Service Women’s Action Network, which has aggressively supported the Gillibrand legislation, is not deterred. Said senior policy fellow Capt. Lory Manning (Ret.), “…today’s disappointment is merely a detour in our march to justice. We will not stop fighting for military sexual assault survivors until service members receive the justice they deserve.”
Sixteen years ago I helped prosecute one of my first sexual assault cases in the military, when two Army non-commissioned officers sexually assaulted a subordinate under their watch after she became extremely intoxicated. When you see these types of cases up close, it pains you to know there are many victims not reporting these crimes. Senator Gillibrand’s bill was a systemic change to ensure more survivors of sexual assault come forward. Republican Senator Rand Paul took the floor today and argued, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” Unfortunately, by not allowing a vote to come to the floor, the Senate proved once again that insanity is the new normal down in Washington D.C.
Watch Patrick’s interview with Senator Gillibrand here.