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Thursday, September 13, 2012

U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims to Hear Oral Argument at Yale Law School Oct. 2

The U. S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) will be sitting at Yale Law School on Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012. The Court will hear oral argument in the case, Copeland v. Shinseki, presenting the question whether this Article I Court has the jurisdiction, and if so the power, to invalidate a statute as unconstitutional. The argument begins at 10 a.m. in Room 120. Yale Law School is located at 127 Wall Street, New Haven. The event is free and open to the public.

In the Veterans Judicial Review Act of 1988, Congress established the CAVC, for the first time in the nation’s history providing for judicial review in veterans’ benefits cases. The CAVC is an Article I Court, whose members are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. It has exclusive jurisdiction over decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA), and its decisions are subject to review on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Court is located in Washington. This is the first time it will hold an argument at Yale Law School.

The case to be heard, Copeland v. Shinseki, involves an appeal by Constance Copeland, surviving spouse of Air Force veteran Donnie Copeland, and seeks review of the BVA decision that (1) reopened and denied her claim for accrued benefits; and (2) denied her claim for dependency and indemnity compensation for the cause of her husband’s death. Ms. Copeland contends, among other things, that denial of her claim violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause, based on the effective date of a statute governing accrued benefits. Upon order of the Court, the parties have also submitted supplemental briefing as to whether the CAVC has jurisdiction to invalidate a statute as unconstitutional.

“We are extraordinarily fortunate that the Court has agreed to visit Yale and to hold oral argument here in this landmark case,” said Professor Michael J. Wishnie ’93, William O. Douglas Clinical Professor of Law and co-director of the Veterans Legal Services Clinic at Yale Law School. “Students in our young clinic have had an opportunity to handle several cases before the Court, but now the entire Yale community will have the chance to observe arguments in the Marbury v. Madison of the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.”


Case Summary

Decision of the Board of Veterans Appeals 

Opening Brief of Appellant 

Brief in Opposition of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Reply Brief of Appellant

Order for Supplemental Briefing 

Supplemental Brief of Appellant

Supplemental Brief of the Secretary