A 1950 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court protects the military from medical malpractice lawsuits. The Feres vs. United States ruling prevents members of the military from suing their doctors or hospitals. The decision has been upheld through several court cases.
Feres defenders say the doctrine is necessary to protect the military from costly, time-consuming trials that could compromise military discipline. Representative Duncan Hunter of California, a Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former fighter pilot, called Feres “a reasonable approach to ensuring that litigation does not interfere with the objectives and readiness of our nation’s military.”
For years, the Department of Justice and the Pentagon have joined forces to fend off legal and legislative challenges to Feres.
A member of the U.S. House, Representative Hinchey is trying to draft a bill to overturn Feres. Similar bills have always been voted down in the Senate.