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Connolly Joins Bipartisan, Bicameral Effort to Support Richmond Army Veteran’s Supreme Court Case

Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA) joined Congresswoman Jennifer McClellan (D-VA), Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers to submit an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of U.S. Army veteran and FBI Special Agent James Rudisill. 

Rudisill, a resident of Richmond and a decorated Army veteran from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is challenging the Department of Veterans Affairs’s denial of his Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits. On Monday, June 26, 2023, the Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari to hear the Rudisill v. McDonough case in the upcoming 2023-2024 term.

“Our servicemembers stand up for us, and we owe it to them to administer the benefits they are promised in return. James Rudisill served his country with honor and distinction. It’s beyond frustrating that he was not allotted the support he needed to achieve his goal of completing divinity school in time to rejoin the Army as a minister. The Department of Veterans Affairs’ mistake not only impacted Rudisill, but our greater Army community. While we can’t turn back the clock, we urge the Supreme Court to deliver justice and provide other veterans with the opportunities intended by Congress,” said McClellan and Kaine.

Prior to joining the FBI’s counterterrorism unit, Rudisill served in the U.S. Army for three periods of active-duty military service: 2000 to 2002 as an enlisted member and 2007 to 2011 as a commissioned officer. After completing his first tour, Rudisill applied for — and received — education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill to complete his undergraduate degree. Following his subsequent periods of service, Rudisill applied for the more generous education benefits offered under the post-9/11 GI Bill in order to attend divinity school and return to the Army as a minister. The Department of Veterans Affairs unfairly denied him the benefits he was promised, and Rudisill had to forfeit his offer to divinity school as a result.

The Supreme Court’s decision could impact 1.7 million veterans eligible for both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Rudisill’s initial legal challenge began in 2015 and has worked its way through the court system over the past eight years. Due to the ongoing litigation and need for judicial interpretation of the statute, Congress has yet to take legislative action on the issue.

In the House, the Members were joined by Reps. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-07), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-04), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Grace Meng (NY-06), Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03), Abigail Spanberger (VA-07), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), and Robert Wittman (VA-01). In the Senate, Senator Kaine was joined by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Mark Warner (D-VA).

Read the amicus brief here

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