- C. Jenkins
SCOTUS Gives Veterans Big Win, Says States Can Be Sued for Discriminating Against Vets
The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered veterans a major victory in a 5-4 ruling.
The ruling will give better work protections to thousands of state-employed veterans going back to work after their service in the National Guard or Reserves.
The case was centered around a veteran and former Texas state trooper, Le Roy Torres. Torres claimed that he was forced out of his job when he returned from Army service in Iraq.
Torres says he was exposed to open burn pits on his base in Iraq, and subsequently suffered lung damage. He spent one year in Iraq and was discharged as a captain after almost 19 years in the U.S. Army Reserve.
When he returned to Texas, he was unable to resume his job as a state trooper because of the damage to his lungs. He sought another comparable job to accommodate his service-related disability, but was denied. That’s when he filed a lawsuit, which he initially lost in state courts. Torres then filed an appeal with the Supreme Court, which just ruled in his favor.
More via Federal Times:
The justices ruled for Army veteran Le Roy Torres under a federal law that was enacted in 1994 in the wake of the Persian Gulf war to strengthen job protections for returning service members.
By a 5-4 vote, the high court rejected Texas’ claim that it is shielded from such lawsuits. “Text, history, and precedent show that the States, in coming together to form a Union, agreed to sacrifice their sovereign immunity for the good of the common defense,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court.
Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by three other conservative justices, dissented, arguing that “when the States ratified the Constitution, they did not implicitly consent to private damages actions filed in their own courts—whether authorized by Congress’ war powers or any other Article I power.” Article I refers to the part of the Constitution that spells out Congress’ power.