As noted in Rep. Jackie Speier’s press release here, “Representatives Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), Bruce Braley (D-IA), and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) today introduced the bipartisan Military Judicial Reform Act to strip military commanders of the unilateral power to overturn convictions or lessen sentences handed down by judges and juries at courts martial.”
The bill’s text is available here. The bill would require the convening authority to “approve of the sentence in whole.”
The bill does away with the SJAR and the CA’s suspension power as well. The legislation would preserve the CA’s authority to waive automatic forfeitures for up to six months — a power CAs often exercise for the benefit of the accused’s family. In what might be a drafting error, however, the bill appears to eliminate the CA’s power to waive adjudged forfeitures for the benefit of the accused’s family.
If approved, among other effects, this legislation would likely vastly increase the number of contested court-martial cases, since a PTA couldn’t be negotiated with the CA, as in current military justice practice (a point LtCol Winklosky of the Army JAG School made in his comment to this 31(b)log post).
Here’s a link to video of the bill sponsors’ press conference.