SCOTUS and the Military: Should Veteran Visits be Publicized?
Andrew Cohen published a two-part series in The Atlantic this week on the relationship between the Supreme Court and the military. In the second part, entitled, "Why Don't the Justices Ever Visit Military Hospitals?" Rosen wrote:
In an age of where the justices of the United States Supreme Court routinely peddle books on television, speak abroad at lavish events, and lecture at ideological venues, it feels odd that there is such a gulf -- both physical and metaphysical -- between the justices and the American service member. And yet there it is. It's not just that the Court is bereft of war veterans for the first time since 1936, a clear disconnect in this age of our so-called "endless war," it's that the justices, for as long as anyone can remember, don't ever seem to ever publicly honor the sacrifice of military service.
Friday, Cohen offered an update after receiving more information on the justices' involvement with veterans from SCOTUS spokesperson Kathy Arberg. According to Arberg, the Court has participated in the Wounded Warriors Program -- a community outreach program for hospitalized soldiers and their families -- since 2008. Arberg explained:
Virtually every Justice has attended one of the programs and at the May 2012 event, six Justices were present along with Court officers and employees, many of whom have past military service themselves. To date, over 300 service members have participated in this program. Visits will occur again this fall and next spring ... These visits are not about publicity -- they have occurred for five years at the Court with little fanfare.
You can read more about the Court's involvement with veterans in Cohen's post, here.
Cohen concludes his piece with a plea to the Nine: Please let us know the next time you do charity work on behalf of soldiers or veterans.
But is that really necessary?
If a Supreme Court justice walks into a military hospital, flanked by reporters and a camera crew, the focus will be on the justice. The soldier could be perceived as a pawn.
The beauty of a quiet veteran visit is that there's no political motivation. We don't elect or recall our justices; they don't need the publicity. (That's better left to elected officials.)
Seven years ago, a crazy friend called with a crazy idea: Let's grill burgers for a wounded soldier at Walter Reed this weekend.
Hauling a Weber grill through a military checkpoint and starting a (controlled) fire outside the parking garage at a military hospital didn't seem like the wisest idea, but we grilled without getting arrested. Then we delivered the flame-broiled fare to a classmate who had been partially paralyzed while serving in Iraq. The soldier, who was also a chef, was delighted to receive food from outside the hospital.
We went. We grilled. We left. There was no fanfare, except our joy to see that friend. He seemed to prefer it that way.
Maybe the Court does, too.
- None of the Supreme Court Justices Has Battle Experience (The Atlantic)
- Stolen Valor: Military Lies Don't Make You a Criminal, Just a Jerk (FindLaw's Ninth Circuit Blog)
- Military Law News (FindLaw's Law & Daily Life)
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