Kirsten Gillibrand, Democratic Senator has called for an overhaul of the US military response to sexual assault. If successful, this could see a shift in prosecution powers away from military commanders. There has also been a change in the stance of military leaders in what has been called a battle against the curse of sexual assault.
Kirsten Gillibrand said it was time for a vote on the issue immediately. It would be a landmark bill that would make a momentous shift in the justice system in the military. She was responding to questions about whether Schumer should go for a Senate vote.
The original legislation was last month introduced by senators from a cross-party group. It would bring significant changes in the way the military handles sexual assault. It aims to move decision-making authority from the command chain on bringing felony-level charges.
Opposition For A Total Shift From The Senate Armed Services Committee
Kirsten Gillibrand has been thwarted as Democratic Senator Jack Reed, the chairman of the SASC has advocated a more narrow change. He is against moving all felony-level offenses and charges, instead of supporting the power for cases of sexual assault. Gillibrand has said that such a move would lead to two justice systems in the military that would be unequal.
She said the criminal justice system would break apart through such a move and the move to create a parallel system would be unfair. it would lead to a disdain of the whole justice system.
Originally brought together by Republican Senators Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, along with Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, this bill would also go in for preventive measures. That would include more training across ranks. Military prosecutors and criminal investigators would also be trained to attend to domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
Sustained Efforts From Kirsten Gillibrand Yields Efforts
The bill has come after sustained efforts from Kirsten Gillibrand and Joni Ernst. It fell through previously due to Democratic opposition from Senators Carl Levin, Michigan, and Claire McCaskill, Missouri, then chairman of the Armed Services Committee.
Gillibrand said that a trained prosecutor was needed to decide if it should go to trial. A chain of command could be biased as they might know the accused or the perpetrator. Such a bias would not be appropriate for serious felonies, she felt.
The Bill at present has 64 cosponsors. That should be enough to see it through the Senate threshold. But it has to first come to the floor, something which only Schumer can decide.