CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has joined a bipartisan coalition of 40 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to allow a three-time veteran the full set of education benefits the Montgomery and Post-9/11 GI Bills allow.
The coalition argues that a veteran who has served multiple periods of qualifying service under the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill is entitled to receive a total of 48 months of education benefits—without first exhausting the Montgomery benefit in order to obtain the more generous Post-9/11 benefit.
“Our veterans, our nation’s heroes, should not have to fight for benefits the country they have honorably served promised them,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “We send them to fight our wars and I’m proud of our laws that honor their service when they get back home.”
The veteran in the center of the case, James Rudisill, enlisted and served in the Army from 2000 to 2002, served again a couple years later—including on deployment in Iraq—and ultimately was commissioned as an officer from 2007 to 2011. The coalition argues that this service entitles him to the Post-9/11 benefits up to the law’s full 48-month cap.
However, the VA insists the law limits him to only the 10 months of benefits that remained available to him under the Montgomery GI Bill—even though his separate periods of service qualified him for 22 months under the Post-9/11 Bill.
In 2021, the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims ruled in Rudisill’s favor. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed that ruling last December.
The coalition’s brief argues the lower court’s interpretation of the GI Bills deprives veterans of the expansive education benefits that Congress intended to confer, and frustrates the States’ efforts to help veterans gets the benefits they deserve. It also argues that the lower court’s approach denies veterans the special solicitude from the pro-veteran canon, which instructs courts to liberally construe statutes that are designed to protect our nations’ vets.
Attorney General Morrisey joined the Virginia-led brief with Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Northern Mariana Islands, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Read a copy of the amicus brief: https://bit.ly/3qAXIOg.