Words Matter, Legal Words Matter More
James Rudisill is a veteran, three tours of duty in the Middle East. He is entitled to the benefits of the Montgomery G.I. Bill of 1984 and the Post-911 Benefits Bill of 2008. Each bill offers various amounts of education benefits for veterans. Rudisill wants to access both sets of benefits, get both and stack the benefits to pay for all of his college education.
The government says Rudisill much choose one or the other, make an “election” between the two educational assistance benefits programs. The Post-911 Benefits Bill of 2008 was the bill drafted second, twenty-four years after the 1984 law, and, as the second bill, the 911 Benefits Bill is the law that should address the fact that the government will now have two different education access programs.
The 2008 law should say “we know there is an existing program—we are adding another program—here is how the two programs will co-exist…”
Well, the frustrating part is that the statute, the written words drafted and passed into law by your elected Congress, is internally inconsistent on this issue. The Congress of 2008, with Nancy Pelosi running the House and Harry Reid running the Senate, drafted a bill that says in some places that veterans “may” elect to receive one of the two educational benefits programs, but in other places the bills says that veterans “shall” elect to receive one of the two educational benefits programs. The bill says that veterans don’t have to choose one or the other but also says that veterans have to choose one or the other. So these brainiacs passed a law that says two different things about these two G.I. programs.
Now a decorated army vet, lawyers, and the Supreme Court have to clean up the mess. You have no idea how many times this happens—poorly written laws cause a tremendous amount of litigation and, more importantly, cause real problems for real people. The Supreme Court voiced its frustration with the Congress last week during oral arguments in Rudisill’s case. Their decision is expected in a few months.
Side note on Harry Reid
Remember Siegfried & Roy? My older readers will, but you younger folks google them and watch some YouTubes of their act. Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn were German-American magicians and entertainers who performed together as Siegfried & Roy. They were best known for their use of white lions and white tigers in their acts. They had a long-standing nightly show in Vegas at The Mirage Casino.
I cannot explain to you how famous these two polished-up-Joe-Exotics were in the 1980 to 2003 mono-culture. Everyone knew Siegfried & Roy and their magic white tigers and lions.
Not surprisingly, in a 2003 show one of the tigers did what tigers do and attacked and nearly killed Roy. What does that have to do with public servant Senator Harry Reid? Reid was the senior Senator from Nevada. He personally stopped investigations into the safety of the Seigfried & Roy show for years before the 2003 attack, and he prevented the USDA from investigating after the 2003 on-stage attack. The Mirage had the attack on video, which seems like a pretty critical piece of evidence for an investigation into the safety of the performers and audience, and of the treatment of the animals. The Mirage would not hand it over, and the USDA investigators were told by their bosses to stop asking, on orders which came directly from Senator Harry Reid.
Reid even introduced an amendment to the 2003 spending bill (the bill that you hear about these days that is necessary to avoid a government shut down) mandating that the federal government could not subpoena the video of the tiger attack.
Imagine that, one of the most powerful men in the world using his power to control government spending to prevent investigation and discovery of truth about Seigfried & Roy’s animal training, control, and performance procedures.
“I did it because I was trying to save Las Vegas from embarrassment,” said Reid, shortly before his 2021 death, to Steven Leckart on the outstanding podcast, Wild Things, referring to his “no subpoena” amendment. “Siegfried and Roy were tremendously important to Nevada because they really drew the crowds. I think they were part of making the city what it is today, so I wanted to make sure that we did everything we could to make sure that (animal-rights activists and gaming regulators) didn’t do anything that hurt Las Vegas.”
Harry Reid, stopping animal-rights activists and regulators to protect Steven Wynn (the owner of the Mirage)! Reid was a career politician who somehow accumulated generational wealth drawing the salary of a “public servant.” He was famously born into poverty, but his estimated net worth in 2015 was more than $48 million—no wonder he worried more about protecting the wealthy than drafting veterans’ benefits laws.
Mitchell Driskell has been an Oxford lawyer for twenty-two glorious years, going to court, making objections, the whole deal. He is currently with the Tannehill & Carmean. You can reach him at 662.236.9996 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He practices personal injury law, criminal law, and family law while not listening to history podcasts.