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Supreme Court Upholds Additional Educational Benefits For Some Veterans

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


The U.S. Supreme Court sided with a decorated veteran this week who had served in both Afghanistan and Iraq, in his long-standing dispute with the government over a year’s worth of G.I. Bill educational benefits.

The court, by a 7-2 majority, determined that the Department of Veterans Affairs had incorrectly calculated the educational benefits for James Rudisill, a retired Army captain who lives in northern Virginia.

Now an FBI agent, Rudisill falls into a group of veterans who have accrued credit under two iterations of the G.I. Bill. One variant was applicable to those who had served prior to the attacks on September 11, 2001. After the attacks, Congress passed new legislation regarding the additional benefits.

However, Rudisill’s service records include tours both before and after these attacks, including missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Per the bill, each provision offers veterans a span of 36 months of benefits with an overall limit of 48 months. Rudisill was under the impression that he had 10 months left from the previous program’s benefits in addition to another year under the new system.

This extra year, however, was denied by VA, The Associated Press reported.

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Rudisill stated that this decision forced him to abandon his plans of attending Yale Divinity School, getting ordained as an Episcopal priest, and rejoining the Army as a chaplain.

His legal counsel went on to note that the high court’s ruling could potentially impact around 1.7 million veterans, a claim that VA claims are wildly exaggerated.

Also this week, the nation’s highest court, in a 6-3 decision, ruled that the state of Idaho could go ahead and enforce its ban on gender-altering medical procedures for minors that would cause permanent damage, at least for now.

The court’s six conservatives overruled its three far-left liberals, with CBS News reporting that “the stay does not apply to the two transgender teenage plaintiffs in the case and the care they are seeking, but blocks the more expansive portions of the lower court’s decision.”

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“The district court’s order promised to run for the life of this lawsuit, thus preventing Idaho from executing any aspect of its law for years. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs face no harm from the partial stay the State requests,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority in an opinion joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

The ACLU, which is representing the plaintiffs, criticized the ruling.

“While the court’s ruling today importantly does not touch upon the constitutionality of this law, it is nonetheless an awful result for transgender youth and their families across the state,” the groups said. “Today’s ruling allows the state to shut down the care that thousands of families rely on while sowing further confusion and disruption. Nonetheless, today’s result only leaves us all the more determined to defeat this law in the courts entirely, making Idaho a safer state to raise every family.”

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Critics have denounced so-called “gender-affirming care” for minors as horrendous and abusive, saying that permanently disfiguring a child’s body for a political cause is cruel and inhumane. Many of the same critics have urged states to pass laws preventing minors from undergoing such procedures, pushing off such decisions until they reach adulthood.

Idaho officials, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, sought the emergency injunction from the U.S. Supreme Court after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to do so.

“Plaintiffs only seek estrogen hormone therapies, yet the district court issued a universal injunction against the law in its entirety, stopping enforcement even in situations where Plaintiffs’ experts agree medical intervention is not appropriate,” Idaho officials wrote. “Those applications involve the most extreme surgical treatments and the most vulnerable minors, who will lose the protections of Idaho’s law and will instead be governed by an injunction obtained by others who do not and cannot speak for them.”

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