to their eligibility for Veterans' benefits in general and for survivors' benefits in particular. If Philippine Army veterans received Philippine veterans' benefits, the receipt of such benefits would only go to their need for U.S. Veterans' benefits and the amount of benefits to be awarded, not their eligibility for benefits, which as the Court previously noted is determined solely by status. For example, Ms. Quiban's entitlement to survivors' benefits can be adjusted by her income and total wealth. See Quiban v. Veterans Administration, 713 F. Supp. 436,, slip op. at 30 n. 38 (D.D.C. 1989) (citing 38 U.S.C. § 541). Thus assuming she received benefits from the Philippine government, those benefits would be included as income and her survivors' benefits would be determined accordingly.
In addition to the three categories of evidence described above, the government makes a couple of other arguments purporting to go to why Philippine Army veterans were not accorded U.S. Army veteran status. It argues that, in contrast to the Old Philippine Scouts, Philippine Army veterans did not join our Armed Forces directly, but instead were inducted pursuant to the President's Order. The Court has already determined that the method of induction is irrelevant to status.
Similarly, the government notes that certain congressmen were of the opinion that the Philippine Army was only "with the United States Army" and not a part of the United States Army. This same opinion had been expressed in the legislative history that had been considered by the Court. The Court now makes explicit what was implicit in the prior Memorandum: this was a distinction without a difference.
The government also asserts that Old Philippine Scouts could be required to serve with the U.S. Army anywhere. But it neglects to mention that the President's Order placed no geographic limitation, and Philippine Army soldiers also could be required to serve anywhere.
Further, the government asserts that Old Philippine Scouts were "trained directly by the U.S. government and hence more valuable to the U.S. government." The government having inducted the Philippine Army into service with knowledge of their training, and having assumed authority to deploy them on the battlefield, can hardly be said to complain that they received an inferior product. In any event, the government proffers no documentary evidence that veterans' benefits were allocated on the basis of "value"; this is particularly significant because the Court noted in its opinion that there was no evidence that Congress deemed the level of training received significant when awarding benefits. Quiban, slip op. at 19 n. 25.
Finally, the government once again argues that the cost of extending full benefits to Philippine Army veterans provides the rational basis. The Court has already considered and rejected this argument. No one doubts that reducing costs is a worthy legislative goal. But the means for achieving that goal must be based on a classification having a rational relationship to the statute's purposes. Congress, by singling out persons who are equally entitled to status as United States Army veterans to be the means by which the goal of saving money was to be achieved, failed to insure that the means were rationally related to the purposes of Veterans' benefits legislation.
In sum, the new evidence does not establish the constitutionality of § 107(a); nor does it raise a genuine dispute as to a material question of fact.
Since the Court has considered all the new evidence submitted,
the government cannot claim it has not been afforded an adequate opportunity to defend the constitutionality of § 107(a). It has been able, in the motion for reconsideration, to argue what interpretation should be given to the new evidence; Plaintiff has responded.
There is no reason, therefore, why the Court cannot dispose of the current motion by interpreting the new evidence without further briefing, just as it would had it been briefed as a motion for summary judgment.
The government was not prejudiced by the lack of formal notice of conversion and the sua sponte grant of summary judgment for plaintiff. It should be charged with notice that the Court would consider extrinsic evidence of the constitutionality of § 107(a) because such evidence was proffered by plaintiff at the outset and defendant also relied on such evidence. Similarly, since it knew that the constitutionality of the act was the sole, dispositive issue remaining in the case, it can hardly have been surprised that a finding of unconstitutionality would lead to summary judgment for plaintiff.
Because striking down statutes is a serious matter, however, the Court has given full consideration to the additional evidence. The additional evidence does not establish the constitutionality of the act, particularly with respect to the benefit at issue in this case, survivors' benefits. Nor does the new evidence give rise to a dispute over a material question of fact. It merely gives the Court additional material with which to ascertain the "concerns motivating Congress" and congressional intent; but interpretation of this material is a question of law. Because the government has had an opportunity to argue what interpretation should be given to this material, and plaintiff has responded, there is no need to order another round of briefing, which will only delay matters. And upon consideration of all the evidence and arguments presented in this matter, the Court adheres to its determination that § 107(a) is unconstitutional. Therefore the motion for reconsideration has been denied.
ORDER - July 20, 1989, Filed
As noted in this Court's Memorandum of July 11, 1989, the Court issued the Memorandum before it had available the transcript of the hearing held on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. The Court has now received the transcript. Therefore, as contemplated and to aid the Court of Appeals in the review of this matter, the Court now issues the accompanying Memorandum, which contains citations to the relevant portions of the hearing referred to in the prior Memorandum. Aside from the addition of these citations, the only other changes are the correction of typographical errors, insertion of words inadvertently omitted, grammatical changes and the like. No substantive change in what was originally intended is effected by this Memorandum.
Therefore, it is by the Court this 19th day of July, 1989,
ORDERED, that this Order and the accompanying Memorandum shall be filed as a Supplement to the July 11, 1989 Memorandum.