Okay. It finally happened. Our colleague Tamara Tabo finally wrote something that required a response from one of your faithful regular editors.
Tamara makes some excellent points about the incidence of rape not necessarily being higher in the military than in civilian institutions (at least as reported).
But the problem is not so much what she says, but why? What’s to be gained by taking to the pulpit and saying that the incidence of military rape is on par with civilian rape and that the concern of policymakers is misplaced?
The only answer is to suggest that military rape is not a problem because it’s in line with the rest of society. And that’s not a good argument.
But not as bad as the argument that drunk women are the real problem in rape cases…
On Tuesday, Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul joined Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in her push to pass new legislation that would remove the chain of command from military sexual assault cases. Senator Gillibrand argues that women in the military are afraid to report rapes, and when they do report them, the crimes are not always prosecuted.
People of conscience want sexual assault victims to report. We want sexual offenders to be duly processed and punished. We want individuals wrongly accused to suffer as little harm as possible as they clear their names. We share these broad goals, though we may differ about specific means of achieving them.
I respect Senator Gillibrand for formulating a proposal. I respect Senators Cruz and Paul for crossing the aisle to support legislation they believe in. I am unpersuaded, however, that this bill would adequately and fairly address the problem.
Legislation like Gillibrand’s treats as unique a problem that is not. Relevant statistics suggest that young women may be at no greater risk of being sexually assaulted in the military than being sexually assaulted on a college or university campus. Why propagate a message of fear that sending our daughters (or ourselves) into the service amounts to handing them over to an unpatrolled, unrepentant rape culture, but shipping off young women to college is relatively safe? Why send the message that our women are more likely to be raped by a fellow Marine than by a frat brother from Sigma Chi?
In today’s New York Times, there’s an interesting profile of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who replaced Senatrix Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate. To be honest, despite my weakness for high-powered women with gold-plated credentials — Gillibrand’s résumé features Dartmouth, UCLA Law, a Second Circuit clerkship, Davis Polk, and Boies Schiller (where she was a partner) — I’m not a huge Gillibrand fan.
If you’ve ever heard Gillibrand speak, you can understand why her congressional peers nicknamed her Tracy Flick. She sounds like a super-perky high school president, not a United States Senator. She has no gravitas. She occupies the Senate seat once held by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but Kirsten Gillibrand is not fit to kneel down and remove Hillary’s kitten heels.
Anyway, enough ranting. The NYT profile of Gillibrand, despite its occasionally fawning tone, is worth reading, due to some fun tidbits about Gilliband’s stint as an associate at Davis Polk….
Kirsten Gillibrand, junior Senator from NY and purported MILF
* This “Kirsten Gillibrand as MILF” thing makes me vaguely uncomfortable. She’s blond. Okay. And…? I’m not sure she is/was attractive enough to work at the hottie haven of Davis Polk, much less be in Vogue. [Law Shucks]
* As I tried to explain on Twitter, going shooting with Antonin Scalia sounds like a bad idea if you are a new, liberal justice. [Gawker]
* The Ninth Circuit panel reviewing Arizona’s immigration law doesn’t look very friendly to those who hate Mexicans. [Politico]
* Woman contemplates paying off $45K dental bill with a positive blog post, but then changes her mind and gets sued. If you ever see me writing a post glorifying Harvard Law School, now you know why. [ABA Journal]
Yesterday, the New York Times published a story about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s ties to “big tobacco.” As an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, Gillibrand — who replaced Hillary Clinton as New York’s junior Senator — represented Phillip Morris.
For most people who understand how law is practiced at the top firms in the country, the interesting part of the NYT article pretty much ends there. As an associate, especially a “superstar” associate as Gillibrand appears to have been, you work for the partners and represent the clients they tell you to represent. It’s really not that complicated.
But since Gillibrand is now a Senator and tobacco is “evil,” neither the Times nor Gillibrand could just leave well enough alone. The Times takes the first shot:
But a review of thousands of documents and interviews with dozens of lawyers and industry experts indicate that Ms. Gillibrand was involved in some of the most sensitive matters related to the defense of the tobacco giant as it confronted pivotal legal battles beginning in the mid-1990s.
Gillibrand was at DPW from 1991 to 2000. And she was really good at it. Wouldn’t one expect that a superstar mid-level would be involved in “sensitive matters” relating to a huge firm client? But hey, the Times reports that Gillibrand is a “former smoker.” Ah-ha. She clearly wants to hand out free cigarettes in elementary school.
But Gillibrand does slightly overplay her hand. We’ll get into it after I take a smoke break.
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