Accelerated Removal Procedures for VA Executives Held Unconstitutional
In Helman v. Dept of Veterans Affairs, No. 2015-3086, issued May 9, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that the accelerated removal procedures of the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act under which Ms. Helman was terminated constituted an unconstitutional delegation of authority to an administrative judge of the Merit Systems Protection Board in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause. The abbreviated removal appeal procedures in that law were enacted in 2014 to make termination of VA executives easier. The Court held other related provisions of the law to be valid. The due process rights of federal employees arise are constitutionally protected and cannot be summarily revoked. The VA’s care problems do not arise from dishonest, lazy or incompetent employees, but from Congress’s underfunding of the long term costs of military actions. The publicized delays and reporting manipulations are symptoms of that shortage and the underlying problem will not be corrected by making it easier to fire VA employees.