US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Celebrates 25th Anniversary

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

November 19, 2013

U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims celebrates 25th anniversary

“That we have a specialized veteran’s court is a credit to our national commitment to do justice by, quote, him who shall have borne the battle, in President Lincoln’s timeless words.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the twelfth judicial conference of
the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, April 2013

WASHINGTON — Chief Judge Bruce E. Kasold is pleased to announce the 25th anniversary the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, a court created with enactment of the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act in November 1988. With the creation of the court, our nation’s military veterans and their survivors and beneficiaries were provided–for the first time–the right to appeal adverse decisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on their claims for benefits.

Before the court was created, generations of veterans dissatisfied with VA decisions had no judicial forum in which to challenge VA’s administrative rulings. When Congress enacted the Veterans’ Judicial Review Act of 1988, it answered a decades-long call for judicial oversight for veterans.

At the court’s first convention, then-Chief Justice of the United States William H. Rehnquist said, “[The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims] is going to . . . engage, I dare say, in some very important work.”

Indeed, since the court first convened, veterans have brought approximately 60,000  appeals before the court. These veterans include those whose service and sacrifice have seen the nation through World War II and the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars, as well as intervening periods of peace and recent years of combat in Afghanistan.

In considering these appeals over the past 25 years, the court has crafted decisions that have promoted greater accountability and uniformity in VA’s claims processing. The court’s bench and bar have also worked to encourage representation of veterans and have significantly lowered veterans’ pro se rates before the court.  And, by taking oral arguments outside the traditional courtroom to the nation’s law schools, the court is inspiring law students and young lawyers to represent veterans.

Last month, the court held an oral argument at Harvard Law School. Last year, the court held an oral argument at Yale Law School.

The court will mark its anniversary with a private ceremonial session in its courtroom on November 20.

Chief Judge Kasold and his eight colleagues on the bench celebrate these achievements and the opportunity to provide justice for veterans and help fulfill–in the words of President Barrack Obama–the “sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America[, ] a commitment that begins at enlistment, and [] must never end.”

 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims interprets and applies laws affecting the men and women who served in the nation’s armed forces, and is the specialized voice in the federal judiciary on veterans law.  The court conducts independent review of the decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, an independent adjudicatory body within the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Since its establishment by Congress in 1988, the court has rendered more than 60,000 decisions on appeals.  The Court’s judges are  appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.  The court’s precedential opinions are published in West’s Veterans Appeals Reporter. Visit the Court’s website at www.uscourts.cavc.gov.

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