Recinto v. U.S. Dep't of Veterans Affairs

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: 02-07-2013
  • Case #: 11-16341
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Gould for the court; Circuit Judges Sack and M. Smith.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Veteran’s Administration’s (“VA”) exclusive use of the National Personnel Records Center (“NPRC”) to determine eligibility for benefits under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (“FVEC”) does not violate due process under the Fifth Amendment.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 established the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (“FVEC”) to recognize members of the Filipino military conscripted into United States service during WW II. Veteran’s Administration (“VA”) denied benefits to a group of American citizens who it could not verify as eligible Filipino World War II veterans or their widows (“Veterans”). On appeal to the District court, Veterans claimed that exclusive use of National Personnel Records Center (“NPRC”) to determine eligibility violated their Fifth Amendment due process and equal protection rights. The district court dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. The Ninth Circuit affirmed dismissal of Veterans’ due process claim because the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims holds exclusive jurisdiction over “consideration of veterans’ individual benefits decisions” and Veterans’ claims here, even viewed “as a systematic challenge,” would involve inquiry into a representative sample of similar denials. The Ninth Circuit did find jurisdiction over Veterans’ facial equal protection claim. Nevertheless, the court did not find Veterans established either that the “Release” or “Recognition of Service” provisions of the FVEC created a “new and distinguishable classification” meriting strict scrutiny. The Court concluded that the FVEC is “based on status as a territory and not on...race, nationality, or alienage and is constitutional under rational basis review.” Neither, the Court continued, did Veterans allege that the “status as a territory” classification was created for a discriminatory purpose and, thus, dismissal under 12(b)(6) was appropriate. AFFIRMED.

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