U.S. Dist Judge Roger Vinson Ruled Against 1,000s of Veterans in Infamous Med Bene Case

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Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial

Judge Roger Vinson—who ruled Health Care reform unconstitutional—decided against veterans in an infamous case that stunned veterans across the nation (Schism v. United States, 02-1226), ruling in favor of the Bush-Cheney DoJ petition for summary judgement against World War II-Korean War veterans who were vocally promised health care for life by military recruiters.

“Vinson is an anti-veteran, anti-health care GOP tool. He showed it in Schism. He showed it again on health care reform. The GOP picked Vinson’s court because they knew how he would rule in advance,” said a veterans’ advocate speaking on background because of the sensitivity of the advocate’s current work.

A finding in favor of summary judgement as Vinson ruled—depriving veterans of even a trial—is a high legal hurdle to meet and Vinson tarred himself in legal veterans’  circles as an activist judge doing the work of partisan interests over the health of veterans and the law.

The Schism v. United States (02-1226) case decided early in the Bush-Cheney administration signaled what would later become a reliably anti-veteran stance of that administration, even as it pushed for more war and overseas adventures.

Citing the legal obligations of U.S. law in terms of “the canon that provisions for benefits to members of the Armed Fores are to be construed in the beneficiaries’ favor,” [(King v. St. Vincent’s Hosp., 502 US . 215 n. 9 (1991)], Senior Circuit Judge S. Jay Plager wrote a later dissenting appellate opinion taking sharp issue with Vinson’s anti-veteran ruling that promises made to veterans by military recruiters are not binding upon the U.S. government.

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama is generally recognized as among the most right-wing judicial circuits in America.

The veterans’ position in the Schism case was argued by George “Bud” Day, retired Air Force Colonel and a highly decorated Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Schism was overturned by a three-judge panel, overturned again by a 13-judge panel, and denied a hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court deciding in favor of the Bush-Cheney administration on June 2, 2003, days before the anniversary of D-Day.

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