- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Justice Department said Thursday it won’t enforce a portion of a Veterans Affairs reform law signed by President Obama, who’s a former constitutional law professor, because it’s unconstitutional.

A Justice spokesperson said the department’s legal view is “limited” and “narrow” on the question of a VA employee’s rights after being fired.

“The department determined that one aspect of the procedures to review the lawfulness of the employee’s removal — the provision giving an administrative judge final and unreviewable discretion to determine if the removal was lawful — violates the U.S. Constitution,” the spokesperson said. “The department continues to defend all other aspects of the statute in this matter.”

Attorney General Loretta Lynch notified House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, this week that Justice wouldn’t enforce the clause in the case of Sharon Helman, a former VA official in Phoenix, Arizona, who is seeking her job back. Ms. Helman was at the center of the VA’s scandal over phony waiting lists and delayed care in which dozens of veterans died.

Mr. McCarthy, other lawmakers and veterans groups blasted Ms. Lynch’s decision, saying it paves the way for a convicted felon to get her job back at the VA.

In its statement Thursday, Justice said it believes that Ms. Helman “was properly removed from her position.”

“The department’s role is to defend the U.S. Constitution and ensure justice for all,” the agency said. “That’s what this decision reflects. The department has a long-standing practice of declining to defend statutes in the absence of reasonable arguments for their constitutionality or when they infringe on the constitutional powers of the president, and we are continuing that practice. We also are continuing our commitment to vigorously protecting the rights and interests of our service members and veterans.”

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