March 25, 1998
Michael Boos (703) 352-4788
Conservative Legal Group Backs G.I. Who Refused U.N. Orders

Fairfax, Virginia
-- The National Citizens Legal Network (NCLN) announced today that it has filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to hear the case of a U.S. Army medic, Michael G. New, who was court-martialed and sentenced to a bad conduct discharge for refusing an order to wear the uniform and insignia of the United Nations after his unit was ordered deployed to Macedonia. Mr. New contends that the order was unlawful and unconstitutional.

In its Supreme Court filing, NCLN urges the justices to accept Mr. New's case, arguing that it is inappropriate for the military courts, which are comprised of military personnel subordinate to the President, to rule on the lawfulness of their Commander-in- Chief's order. "A military tribunal comprised of military personnel subordinate to the President of the United States is clearly not the proper forum to consider 'unprecedented' and 'important issues, implicating the balance of power between the President as Commander-in-Chief and the Congress and the relationship between the United States and the United Nations,'" said the group.

NCLN also contends that if Mr. New is required to await the outcome of his military appeals prior to seeking relief in the civilian courts, as the lower courts ruled, he might lose his right to seek review by the civilian courts altogether.

"Federal habeas corpus relief is available to persons held 'in custody' in violation of the Constitution of the Untied States or the laws enacted thereunder," says the group. "Mr. New's sentence does not include incarceration; he was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge only. Once Mr. New's last military appeal is concluded, arguably, he could be considered to no longer be in the custody of the military if his sentence is affirmed by military authorities; yet he would continue to suffer the stigma of a bad conduct discharge without the certainty of having his constitutional claims ruled on by an Article III court via a habeas petition."

According to NCLN Legal Director Michael Boos, the group is "concerned that the Army might be attempting to manipulate circumstances in order to avoid review of Mr. New's court-martial conviction altogether, by arguing today that Mr. New must await the outcome of his military appeals.

"Later, if Mr. New's military appeals are unsuccessful, the Army could argue that New is not entitled to civilian court review because he is no longer 'in custody' of the military since he's been discharged, albeit, dishonorably," said Boos.

For additional information, contact Michael Boos at (703) 352-4788. The brief is available by clicking here.