Policy & Strategy

Judge: Obama exerted ‘unlawful command influence’ with remarks

A military judge in Hawaii has ruled that two defendants in
sexual assault cases cannot be punitively discharged because comments by
President Obama were “unlawful command influence,” Stars and Stripes reports.

Navy Judge Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled that remarks by Obama
on sexual assault could unfairly affect sentencing in the cases, according to
court documents obtained by Stars and
Stripes
.

In a pre-trial ruling, the judge denied a motion to dismiss,
but ruled that the defendants cannot be discharged if they are found guilty.

The ruling could have a serious impact on military sexual
assault cases, as well as on lawmakers who have been contemplating changes to the
military judicial code.

{mosads}The military code says that no one may influence the action
of a court-martial.

The judge wrote that Obama’s comments at a news conference “would
appear to direct a particular result from the military justice system, namely
that service members who commit sexual assault be ‘court-martialed’ and ‘dishonorably
discharged.’”

Obama’s quote came from a news conference last month where he
said
he had “no tolerance” for sexual assault in the military.

“If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve
got to be held accountable: prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed,
fired, dishonorably discharged. Period,” Obama said.

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