Military Life

Don’t Support Pattie Just Because She is a Military Spouse

Article by: Reda Hicks, Military Spouse JD Network

This week, the military family community has been abuzz over Patricia Millett, the rock star appellate lawyer and retired Navy spouse nominated by President Obama to join the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit. But the fact that Pattie is a retired Navy spouse is not the biggest reason she is garnering so much support in the military community.

Pattie is an exceptional candidate for the bench (not to mention, an incredible person), and she can only be appointed as a judge if the Senate votes in her favor. They will only do that if the voters tell them to. That is why the Military Spouse JD Network-the bar association for military spouse attorneys-has been working hard to spread the message about this amazing candidate, and encourage people to call, email, and tweet if they support this retired navy spouse. 

But why is this important? Does Pattie’s appointment matter to non-lawyers? Does it really make a difference to the military community? Here are three reasons why the answer to all three questions is “yes.”

1. The D.C. Circuit is THE most important court for military. Although the military has its own justice system for court martials, many other kinds of cases affecting military and veterans are heard by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. In fact, most cases about Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs policies find their way to the D.C. Circuit on appeal.

Decisions made by the D.C. Circuit set precedent by which military and veterans are bound, and then affects their everyday lives. This makes a military perspective among the judges on that court absolutely critical. With over fifteen years of service with a Navy spouse, Pattie could be that voice. Not only has she lived the military life, but she has represented members of the military community on appeals before.


2. We get one shot, and it is NOW. A very small percentage of attorneys in this country ever get the chance to serve as a federal judge. The number that gets the chance to serve on the court of appeals is even smaller. The likelihood that another military spouse attorney (or former military attorney, for that matter) will be nominated for any circuit court-let alone the most important one-will happen again anytime soon is virtually non-existent.

To call this once-in-a-lifetime is not far from the truth. If the military community wants its voice sitting among the judges on the D.C. Circuit, the time to make that happen is NOW. The vote on Pattie is likely to be held on Thursday, and expressing support to key Senators between now and then is the only way to ensure that she is put in a position to represent our perspective.

3. Pattie is all of us. Military spouses, that is. That she is a military spouse is certainly one reason to support Pattie, though not the most important one. When military spouses achieve these incredible professional heights, they show the world what all of us are capable of. How many of us have struggled to find work in our chosen professions? How often have we had employers reject us as candidates because we are military spouses? How many times have we had to explain just how capable we are to have careers and serve? We need people like Pattie to point to and say “it can be done; I can do it; I’m worth a shot.”

Not only does she show the best we as military spouses can do, but she actually IS the best. The appellate attorneys I interviewed to write her profile consistently agreed that there is no appellate jurist in this country better than Pattie. She’s uniquely qualified. She has a unique perspective (OURS). And she needs our help.

Click here to find out how you can join us in our efforts with calls, emails, and Tweets asking the Senate to #ConfirmPattie!


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