Ending the Second 'Splendid Isolation'?: Veterans Law at the Federal Circuit in 2013
79 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2014
Date Written: May 20, 2014
The law of veterans benefits has developed in relative isolation since 1998, when the Federal Circuit established that the unique nature of the pro-claimant veterans benefits system precluded borrowing legal concepts from other areas of the law. The year 2013 saw an increasing retreat from the isolation in which this area of law has developed since that time. This article reviews the veterans law cases issued by the Federal Circuit in 2013, noting an increasing trend to include a wide range of sources beyond the precedents of veterans law proper in the Court's analysis. The use of mainstream sources, combined with explicit acknowledgment of the unique nature of the veterans benefits system, would be a very interesting direction for the Federal Circuit to take in the future. It is worth seriously considering whether it is truly pro-claimant for veterans law to remain isolated from mainstream legal systems and processes. Given that the current system is not working very efficiently or effectively, this article suggests that it may be time for the courts to look beyond veterans law to see if principles or processes from other legal regimes may have useful lessons.
Keywords: veterans law, federal circuit, VJRA, judicial review, board of veterans' appeals, court of appeals for veterans claims
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