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Federal appeals court dismisses former West Point cadet's lawsuit against superiors

[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit [official website] on Wednesday dismissed [opinion, PDF] a former West Point cadet's lawsuit alleging that superior officers violated her rights when she was allegedly raped by a fellow cadet. Plaintiff Jane Doe alleged that her Fifth Amendment right to equal protection was violated. In a 2-1 opinion, the court concluded that "adjudicating Doe's claim would require judicial interference into a wide range of military function, triggering the incident-to-service rule..." The dissent, written by Judge Denny Chin, disagreed with the majority's use of prior doctrine to bar Doe's claims. "While West Point is indeed a military facility, it is quintessentially an educational institution. ... [S]he was engaged in purely recreational activity. ... [S]he was a student attending college. ... There was 'nothing characteristically military' about what she was doing, and her injuries did not arise out of military employment." Plaintiff's counsel has said [NYT report] her client is considering her future legal options in this case.

Constitutional rights of service members have been a hot topic in the US recently. Earlier this month civil rights groups filed [JURIST report] two separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of President Donald Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the US military. The same week Trump formally issued [JURIST report] the ban on transgender individuals serving in the US military. In addition to the ban, Trump also prohibited the use of military resources funding sex reassignment surgical procedures for military members except to the extent necessary to protect the health of an individual who has already begun a course of treatment to reassign his or her sex. Also in August five unnamed transgender military service members filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against President Donald Trump and various officials in his administration, claiming the president's declaration on Twitter that transgender individuals would no longer be accepted or allowed to serve in the military violated the Due Process and Equal Protection components of the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

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