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Should Military Personnel Receive Extra Rights GP week 2 - Essay Example

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However, the founders designed the Constitution so that the military serves the people, instead of vice versa. Soldiers and civilians have the same civil rights,…
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Should Military Personnel Receive Extra Rights GP week 2
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Should Military Personnel Receive Extra Rights GP week 2 Drinking has become an issue with regard to soldiers, as some believe that the legal age should be lowered to 18. However, the founders designed the Constitution so that the military serves the people, instead of vice versa. Soldiers and civilians have the same civil rights, except that the former are not allowed to run for office while still on duty. However, civilians are at times subject to military laws, whereas soldiers can avoid civilian courts. The rules applying to the civilians, such as the duty not to kill another fellow human being, do not apply to soldiers who managed to hide their crime for a sufficient amount of time. As a result, the military should not be any different from civilians in their rights, including drinking, if the crimes in our society are to be prevented and punished.
Soldiers have almost the same civil rights as civilians. The Congress passed civil rights laws ensuring that soldiers’ civil rights are no different from those of civilians. Moreover, as any civilian, a soldier is entitled to an attorney, marriage, voting, inheritance and several other rights. However, unlike civilians, soldiers are not allowed to run for office, be it partisan or nonpartisan, especially if it conflicts with their duties (, 2012).
There are arguments that soldiers should in fact have more rights. They have more duties. As a result, one could argue that soldiers too could be allotted some additional rights. In 2010, there was a discussion in the Congress that drinking age should be returned to 18 for soldiers. The argument was that if they are considered adults enough to die for their country, then they can be adults with a beer in their hand too, regardless of the fact that alcohol caused over 25,000 deaths in 2009 (Bishop, 2010; Kochanek et al., 2011, p.11). The bill was rejected.
Historically, there was a way for soldiers to become immune in front of the court – martial. Such example was in Hirshberg v. Cooke (1949), where a soldier was in captivity by the Japanese (Everett, 1960, p.373). He was released, discharged from the Navy and then reenlisted the following day (Everett, 1960, p.373). However, when his crimes against other captives were discovered, the court – martial could not try him under another enlistment. He was set free. Another important case is of two Special Forces units who murdered and disposed of a third member (Everett, 1960, p.373). They were out of the military when their crimes were discovered. However, civilian courts could not try them, and since they were no longer enlisted, they were immune from court – martial (Everett, 1960, p.373). Under the Fifth Amendment, every civilian is entitled to trial under a grand jury (Everett, 1960, p.372). Moreover, under the Sixth Amendment the defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial (Everett, 1960, p.375). However, the Article three, section two of the Constitution, along with the former two amendments, limited the power of court – martial in above mentioned cases (Everett, 1960, p.375).
The Supreme Court confirmed immunity. Article 3(a) of the Uniform Code of Military Justice authorized court – martial to try soldiers when they are indicted for a crime (Everett, 1960, p.375). The authorization of this code is located in Article one, section eight, clause fourteen of the Constitution (Everett, 1960, p.371). However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1955 in favor of the defendant, thus setting a standard that a serviceman cannot be tried unless still enlisted, ruling the Article 3(a) unconstitutional (Young, n.d., p.21).
However, though soldiers are at times immune from their own crimes, this is not the case with civilians. The law of war is a branch of international law dictating treatment of perpetrators violating military or governmental property, spying, committing murder of soldiers (Everett, 1960, p.367). The law of war placed military courts above civilian so that the United States military court can try a spouse of a murdered soldier (Everett, 1960, p.368).
Considering their immunity and crimes committed, one should not endow soldiers with additional rights. A right to drink would add an additional right that could eventually lead to deaths on the road. Are soldiers to be excused for these deaths as well once no longer enlisted? Even if they were not allotted any civil rights, the issue would not be one of drinking age, but of handing them the rights every civilian has. Thus, the issue of drinking too should be looked at through the same legal lens. Once civilians are allowed to drink, soldiers will be as well. Until then, let us not forget that soldiers’ duties are larger than civilians’.
Bishop, B. (2010, September 2). Georgia congressman proposes lowering drinking age on
military bases. News Channel WJBF. Retrieved from
Everett, R.O. (1960). Military jurisdiction over civilians. Duke Law Journal, 1960, 366 – 415.
Retrieved from (2012). Soldiers’ rights, responsibilities and duties. Retrieved from
Hirshberg v. Cooke, 336 U.S. 210 (Sup.C. 1949).
Kochanek, K.D., Xu, J., Murphy, S.L., Minino, A.S. and Kung, H.S. (2011). Deaths: Final
data for 2009. National Vital Statistics Reports, 60 (3), 1 – 116. Retrieved from
Young, L.E. (n.d.). Military law: The jungle of jurisdiction. Retrieved from Read More
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