Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill’s amendment to the Defense Authorization Act that was designed to protect victims of sexual assault is facing competition from a fellow democrat.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York is author of an amendment that takes sexual assault cases out of the military chain of command and into the hands of military lawyers.
McCaskill said Gillibrand’s amendment would give military prosecutors too much influence over sexual assault cases, which could be bad for victims.
“Under this proposal, the lawyer that would take this case would not only pick the prosecutor, but they would pick the defense lawyer, pick the jury, pick the judge,” McCaskill said. “There are all sorts of practical and legal problems with having one person in charge of picking every component of a system that depends on checks and balances.”
McCaskill has included proposals in the defense bill that would strip military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, require civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case and assigns victims their own independent legal counsel.
Missouri Senator Roy Blunt (R) supports McCaskill's amendment, saying he also believes that sexual assault cases should not be removed completely from the chain of command.
Gillibrand has more than 50 senators supporting her amendment, including House Majority Leader Harry Reid (D). She needs 60 votes for the amendment to pass.
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