Average Joe SCOTUS: Kisor v. Wilkie

James Kisor, retired marine, and damn fine American went to fight in the Vietnam conflict years ago. As a result, he suffered PTSD. So he went to the VA for disability benefits, and was denied.

Under statute 38 C.F.R. § 3.156(a), if a petitioner has new evidence, their denial may be reopened, and considered in light of the new information provided. So Kisor was like, “Listen here you motherfuckers, I deserve my benefits, and here’s why.”

The information Kisor submitted was not new evidence, however. It was evidence he had at the time of his first evaluation, it was just not in his file, and thus not considered at the time. It was Kisor’s Form 214 and the Combat History documents.

Since it wasn’t new information, but just previously not submitted information, we had what is known as a technicality. And the government loves technicalities, instead of just doing the right thing. They basically argued that those two documents do not prove PTSD, and therefore weren’t sufficient reason to provide him the relief he sought, and denied his shit again.

The Court of Appeals and Federal Circuit court couldn’t be bothered to help Kisor, either. So off to SCOTUS we go.

The issue at hand, largely seemed to be, was that if the VA writes its regulations, it should be the one interpreting them based on how they wrote them, and not others laws congress may have written in a different manner, since the VA knew what the fuck they meant to do when they wrote it. They cited Auer v. Robbins, 519 U.S. 452 (1997) as case history, which basically told salaried cops seeing overtime under federal labor rules, to go fuck themselves and their overtime requests. That the police department had it’s rules on what a salaried employee is, and they don’t get no fucking overtime.

So in order for Kisor to win, they’d have to overrule that case, and  Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co., 325 U.S. 410 (1945).

They didn’t. Unanimous decision for Kisor, while not opting to overrule Auer or Bowles.

You can read about the case or hear oral arguments here.

Another well written explanation from Cato here.


Drop some genius on me here.

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