A dozen military and veterans groups are asking for the right to defend a law in court that makes it easier to fire corrupt and negligent officials at the Department of Veterans Affairs, because the VA is refusing to defend the law on its own.
The groups filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit asking for the right to defend the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act.
The dramatic move comes after the VA said in June that it would no longer apply the law, which Congress passed in 2014 to help the agency fire officials after the healthcare wait list scandal.
That decision shut down the avenue Congress created to help clean up the broken VA. It may also allow Sharon Helman, the former director of the Phoenix VA, to escape her own firing.
The notorious official sued after the VA decided to fire her, and because the VA and the Justice Department won’t defend the law, there’s no one to step in to argue against her. The veterans groups, which include the Veterans of Foreign Wars and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, are therefore asking for the right to argue against her in court.
In their filing to the appeals court, they said it’s extremely rare that the Justice Department refuses to enforce the law. They said that should open the door to allowing veterans groups to defend it themselves.
“Although the federal judiciary has yet to consider its constitutionality, the Department of Justice has announced that it will refuse to defend the statute’s constitutionality in this case against Helman’s Appointments Clause challenge,” they wrote. “This court should not entertain the possibility of invalidating the VACAA without a full and thorough airing or arguments and authorities on both sides of the issue by party litigants who are actually adverse to each other on that point,” they added. (Source: Washington Examiner | Pete Kasperowicz | July 25, 2016)
Thomas Crisp is a retired military officer from Whitmire. His veterans updates can be found weekly in The Newberry Observer.