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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an appeal from a woman who says she was raped as a West Point student, with Justice Clarence Thomas alone saying the court should have heard her case.
The woman, who attended the US Military Academy from 2008 to 2010, had filed a lawsuit claiming academy leaders tolerated a hostile culture towards women and did not provide adequate support to assaulted cadets, between other. But lower courts have said his lawsuit against the US government cannot go ahead.
Thomas said in a dissent that the High Court should have taken the case to reconsider a 70-year-old precedent that prevents members of the military from suing the United States when injured in the exercise of their functions.
This is the second time in as many years that he has noted his disagreement when the court refuses to reconsider the matter. Thomas says the case the court decided decades ago has led to bizarre and surprising results, including the exclusion of the former caddy’s case.
“In our precedent, if two Pentagon employees – a civilian and a military – are struck by a bus in the Pentagon parking lot and file a lawsuit, it may be that only the civilian has a chance to argue their claim on the background, ”Thomas wrote in a 3-page dissent.
In the West Point case, the lower courts ruled that the woman’s claims were prohibited by the so-called Feres doctrine, which originated in a 1950 Supreme Court case. In it, the Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Tort Claims Act does not give military members the ability to sue the United States for injuries that “arise out of or are in the process of activities related to” their active service in the country. military.
Thomas wrote that “Feres was badly decided; and this case was badly decided as a result. Thomas gave a reason the court might not want to address the issue.
“Perhaps the Court is at all hesitant to approach this issue because it would require playing with a 70-year-old precedent that is patently bogus. But if the Feres Doctrine is so wrong that we can’t figure out how to get it under control, then the best answer is to say goodbye to it, ”he wrote. Thomas cited about half a dozen cases in which the court had reversed a precedent, including the landmark Brown v Board of Education case, which outlawed segregation in public schools and overturned the Plessy court ruling against Ferguson.
Some Liberals are particularly concerned now that the court is agreeing to review precedents. They fear the court, which now includes six Tories and three Liberals, could also review and overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide. Thomas previously said that “the court’s abortion precedents are woefully flawed and should be overturned.”
In 2019, however, Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Liberal, and Thomas, a Conservative, indicated that they wanted to review the Feres Doctrine. They said they would have taken a case involving a Navy lieutenant, Rebekah Daniel, who gave birth in a naval hospital and died of a complication. Her husband was not allowed to sue due to the Feres doctrine. Ginsburg has since been replaced in court by Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
The Biden administration had urged the court not to take the West Point case. He noted that if Congress wishes, it can change the law to allow prosecutions currently prohibited by the Feres doctrine.