In 1996 Dorothy Mackey wrote an Op-ed piece, “Violence from comrades a fact of life for military women.” ABC News 20/ 20 did a segment on rape in the military. By November four women came forward at Aberdeen Proving Ground, in Maryland, about a pattern of rape by drill sergeants. In 1997 the military finds three black drill sergeants to scapegoat. They were sent to prison and this left the commanding generals and colonels untouched to retire quietly. The Army appointed a panel to investigate sexual harassment. One of the panelists was the sergeant Major of the Army, Eugene McKinney.On hearing his nomination, former associates and one officer came forward with charges of sexual coercion and misconduct. In 1998 he was acquitted of all charges after women spoke (of how they were being stigmatized, their careers stopped, and their characters questioned. A Congressional panel studied military investigative practices. In 1998, the Court of Appeals ruled against Dorothy Mackay. She had been outspoken on media and highly visible. There is an old Arabic saying “When the hen crows cut off her head.”“This court finds that Col. Milam and Lt. Col. Elmore were acting in the scope of their duties” in 1991-1992 when Capt. Mackey alleged they harassed, intimidated and assaulted her. A legislative remedy was asked for and she appealed to the Supreme Court. Of course the Supreme Court refused to hear the case in 1999, as it always has under the feres doctrine. Her case was cited to block the suit of one of the Aberdeen survivors as well!
If logic and reason, the hard, cold products of the mind, can be relied upon to deliver justice or produce the truth, how is it that these brain-heavy judges rarely agree? Five-to-four decisions are the rule, not the exception. Nearly half of the court must be unjust and wrong nearly half of the time. Each decision, whether the majority or minority, exudes logic and reason like the obfuscating ink from a jellyfish, and in language as opaque. The minority could have as easily become the decision of the court. At once we realize that logic, no matter how pretty and neat, that reason, no matter how seemingly profound and deep, does not necessarily produce truth, much less justice. Logic and reason often become but tools used by those in power to deliver their load of injustice to the people. And ultimate truth, if, indeed, it exists, is rarely recognizable in the endless rows of long words that crowd page after page of most judicial regurgitations.
Struggles to coerce uniformity of sentiment in support of some end thought essential to their time and country have been waged by many good as well as by evil men. Nationalism is a relatively recent phenomenon but at other times and places the ends have been racial or territorial security, support of a dynasty or regime, and particular plans for saving souls. As first and moderate methods to attain unity have failed, those bent on its accomplishment must resort to an ever-increasing severity. . . . Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.It seems trite but necessary to say that the First Amendment to our Constitution was designed to avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings. There is no mysticism in the American concept of the State or of the nature or origin of its authority. We set up government by consent of the governed, and the Bill of Rights denies those in power any legal opportunity to coerce that consent. Authority here is to be controlled by public opinion, not public opinion by authority.If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.
Attempting to resolve questions of interpretation by deferring to the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution leads to several practical and philosophical difficulties. First, the Fourteenth Amendment, for example, was not written by one person but was arrived at through a process of debate, politicking, and compromise. It may be that the various participants in that process had different intentions about what the amendment should mean and how it should be implemented; those intentions may even have been contradictory. Moreover, some would argue that even if the Constitution had one author with one coherent intention as to its meaning and future implementation, that intention could never be completely accessible to judges, or even historians, two centuries later. Finally, assuming for the sake of argument that the Constitutions; Framers did have a unitary, discoverable intention as to how it should be implemented in a particular case, it is not clear that that intention should necessarily govern constitutional interpretation in the late twentieth century, a profoundly different time and society from that of the Framers. The Constitution endures because it is a vehicle for the most central values of American society; but those values necessarily evolve as society changes.