Retirees Can Be Court-Martialed for Crimes Committed After Service 

| February 23, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the Defense Department’s authority to prosecute retired service members for crimes they commit, even after retirement.

The court on Tuesday chose not to hear the case of a retired Marine who was court-martialed for a sexual assault he committed three months after leaving the service in August 2015. By not accepting the case, Larrabee v. the United States, the court upheld the status quo: that military retirees are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

I can think of a few people we have exposed over the years that should face charges under the UCMJ.  The ruling does have some odd implications that I found interesting.

The law stipulates that “retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay” and “members of the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve” are subject to court-martial jurisdiction.

The reasoning, the government argues, is that retirement is simply a change of military status and retired personnel are subject to recall should the need arise.


He cited one provision in the UCMJ that makes “contemptuous words” used by a commissioned officer “against the president, the vice president, Congress” and others as punishable by court-martial.

“From Adm. Bill McRaven to Gen. Michael Hayden and Gen. Martin Dempsey, some of President Donald Trump’s more visible critics of late have been retired military officers. And a provision of federal law … makes it a crime, triable by court-martial,” he wrote in a blog post on Lawfare. “But does the Constitution really allow the government to subject to military trial those who have retired from active duty — in some cases, long ago — even for offenses committed whilethey are retired?”

Yes, it does, according to the Supreme Court, in its denial of Larrabee’s and Dinger’s writs of certiorari.

Retired Maj. Gen. Charles Dunlap, former deputy judge advocate general of the Air Force, concurs.

In a Feb. 16 post on Duke University School of Law’s Lawfire blog, Dunlap said Congress explicitly states that the UCMJ applies to retirees and that Vladeck’s arguments about the impropriety of senior officers speaking out against the president, as well as the “anachronistic” idea that retirees can be recalled to active duty, aren’t valid.

He added that the very act of receiving retired pay means that retired personnel are choosing to keep a relationship with the military and accept all that goes with the choice not to terminate their commission or request a discharge.

“As a retired service member subject to military jurisdiction, count me among those of my comrades-in-arms who believe it a small price to pay to maintain the connection with the armed forces,” Dunlap wrote.

My understanding is that even Class III retirees could, in theory, be recalled to active duty and therefore are still subject to the UCMJ.  This would be useful in prosecuting cases of embellished service and awards by those who are retired.  I find it odd that it could be used to muzzle the voice of dissent from retired officers.  Regardless of who is POTUS,  officers should and I submit are obligated to voice dissent.  I remember a certain General calling our previous President a pussy.  I agreed and still do.   Should he be subject to a court-martial?

Silencing the voice of dissent by using the UCMJ is not acceptable.  I remember when goose-stepping goons were witch-hunting any Marines that were involved with certain Facebook groups that had pictures of women posted on it.   There were not many of us that stood up and told them to GFTS.  I did, still do, always will.  I do not agree with the views of many fellow veterans but I will fight for their right to express them.

We will start to hear people say  “I was not going to risk my retirement” when we ask why they didn’t speak up earlier to right a wrong.  If they are going to use the UCMJ to silence dissent then I demand they use it to take rank and honorable status away from Valor Vultures.

John McCain used some “contemptuous words against the president, the vice president, and Congress” over the years.  How will any retired military officer run for POTUS without saying anything “contemptuous”?

Source: Supreme Court: Retirees Can Be Court-Martialed for Crimes Committed After Service |

Category: Government Incompetence, Legal, Politics, SCOTUS

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IANAL, but it seems to me there is a large difference between dissent and contemptuous speech. Officers, retired or active, should be able to disagree with the President or his policies, in fact it should be encouraged.
Of course in the real world voicing dissent means the end of the active duty officer’s position or even service, so it rarely happens. This breeds a bunch of bobble-heads at the top of the armed forces which results in the debacle we just saw in the Navy’s 7th Fleet.

Interesting- can a retired officer be guilty of contemptuous speech against a former President?

Need coffee.


Well, this is intersting.

Look what happened to this Army Major General who retired in 2005:

“Trial Date Set For Retired Army General Charged In Virginia Rape Case”:

“The Army was planning to court-martial Grazioplene, 69, in the spring of 2018, but the charges were dismissed in March after a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces in another case effectively limited the statute of limitations in the case to five years. Army investigators focused on accusations from 1983 to 1989, while authorities in Virginia are focused on a period from 1988 to 1989 when Grazioplene lived in Virginia.”

“Legislation passed by Congress in 2006 says rape cases have no statute of limitations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, but cases from before then are subject to the laws at the time of the alleged crime.”


And we have this case of an Air Force General Officer who retired in 2010:

“Air Force Busts Retired Four-Star General Down Two Ranks For Coerced Sex”:

“…James suggested Lichte, who is married, would have been court-martialed but that the statute of limitations of five years had lapsed. Lichte retired in 2010, but the Air Force began conducting an investigation in 2016 after it had received a complaint from the woman…”


Court Martial an air force general? Laughable. The USAF in it’s 71 year history has never court martialed a general officer – not even an article 32 hearing. Former SECAF James is full of crapola. Air Force does what it always does w/ misbehaving GOs, a slap on the wrist & retirement (at reduced rank if especially egregious).


Always read the fine print.
All Retired Service Members’ are subject to recall up to age 60.
You’ve been warned, Uncle Sam owns your ass!


It’s in Section 3.3 Mobilization. They got you by the nuts–can recall to AD for the purposes of Court Martial.

MSG Eric

US Code says something similar about all US Citizens too.

Kraven MooreHead

“retired” means your name is removed from active rolls and placed on retired rolls. You are not retired, but receiving reduced pay for reduced work


What if the retiree is part of the presently ongoing coup? Will the new Junta forgive them?
Will they be paid while recalled to AD?

Hack Stone

So, if a service member is injured in the line of duty and subsequently receives a pension, he can not speak out against the President? If a retired service member is subject to the UCMJ, shouldn’t that person be afforded the same privileges as an active duty member, such as full pay, priority seating on AMC Space-A flights, and can charge active duty AND retired service members with Article 91 (disrespect) or Article 87 (missing movement)? How many times have you been out with your buddies, and when it was time to leave the bar, that one guy could not be found because he went out on a cougar hunt?


Am I my own CO? If so, its relaxed grooming standards and no PT for this ‘Armeee of uno’.
Can I article 15 myself?
Can I put myself on jump status?!?!?!
Full Disclosure: It’s day 2,244 of ADONSAs


If I understand correctly Article 88 is aimed squarely at officers to ensure subordination to the office of President, thus it’s current occupant.

It is one thing to say, “there might be a better way, sir”. Quite another to say ” you are insane!”. The latter might likely inspire disobedience in the ranks.

That UCMJ shackle is the price of a Commission. If it is burdensome, it may be resigned. One chose that status. One must accept it comes with rules, including Article 88.

We have had a couple centuries free of military Coup. This is part and parcel of it.

Retired officers are still paid and serving. Thus they are still restricted by UCMJ. This seems both logical and necessary. Part of “duty”.

I would say “essential”.

I will cite the example of the writings of Tom Kratman to demonstrate that one may while retired offer critique, yet restrain the invective, towards a current office-holder.

I am glad to see this from SCOTUS. Long past due.

2/17 Air Cav

I saw this issue at TAH earlier this morning. It was raised by HMC Ret in a comment last night.

I don’t have a dog in this fight but I will say that there was no issue raised to the Supremes (or, in reality, their memo-writing law clerks) that would have qualified for cert. What hasn’t happened that I am aware of, the one issue that just might get the Supremes to visit this matter, is if a retiree is charged with a UCMJ violation for saying something or writing something. This circumstance would put the 1st A at issue, but it’s unlikely to happen because a prosecutor knows to avoid it.


I don’ think it would. You give up quite a number of your Constitutional Rights when you raise your right hand and the Courts have always acknowledged this. This is why the military has a separate judicial system that civilian courts pretty much steer clear of.


Dissent or criticizing the current or past Presidents, members of Congress etc is pretty standard and no-one really thinks much about it. I am sure you would have to go the extra mile to get the military to go after you such as calling for armed insurrection, death threats etc. I doubt calling the President a pussy or making fun of Pocahontas Warren counts.


Saying it would be an honor for the president to strip his security clearance is, to me, pretty contemptuous. I don’t have a particular dog in that fight, and it seems politically petty to pursue the matter – but, if that is the standard, it should be enforced without regard to celebrity or political considerations.


“Regardless of who is POTUS, officers should and I submit are obligated to voice dissent. I remember a certain General calling our previous President a pussy.”

I can and do voice dissent. If the only restriction is the use of “contemptuous words” It might be less entertaining/colorful but its still dissent.

For instance advocating draining the swamp with regard to the executive and legislative branches of Government might be more colorful than opining nothing will be fixed in DC until there are term limits on the Congress. Both are dissenting opinions.

Calling the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave Wash DC an uncouth lout might be viewed as contemptuous words. But offering the view that the Constitution does not have a litmus test on how the President must act in the course of political discourse so if he chooses to engage in less than a statesman like fashion does not qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors under the Constitution.

If my view that the 535 members and their staff that make up the legislative branch of Government are a bunch of obdurate hurls, is that contemptuous?

If I stated the previous occupant of the White House had stupid policies, is that contemptuous? Or do I have to say he was stupid in order to cross the line.

I think this is a bad decision on the part of the court.

I think this decision


It would seem this decision based on

The law stipulates that “retired members of a regular component of the armed forces who are entitled to pay” and “members of the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve” are subject to court-martial jurisdiction.

The reasoning, the government argues, is that retirement is simply a change of military status and retired personnel are subject to recall should the need arise.

might be grounds to challenge the constitutionality of the former spouse protection act that made military retirement subject to division following a divorce.


the courts are as psychotic on the FSPA as they are on whether the unborn are alive or not.

As they say, it depends. The FSPA will apply to retired pay no matter what else happens as long as it benefits lawmakers. Period.

MSG Eric

This goes into dangerous territory.

Any retiree, medical, 20 years, etc., who gets out and starts an opinion blog is just bound to talk about the current POTUS. So what happens when they post or discuss something saying something negative about the current Pres?

“Trump is a doodyhead!” Knock on the door from CID, “Hi we’re here to arrest you for being retired and saying something disparaging about POTUS. Come with us…..”

If this were a thing under obama and they wanted to, they would’ve had to build an entirely new prison because Leavenworth isn’t big enough.

Another question in that, what about Reserve retirees? They get the pink ID Card, but don’t get a pension until 60. So are they subject to UCMJ after 60?

Dave Hardin

Pink card reservists lack a sense of commitment to do anything right.

I think they can still be found guilty but they only have to serve a small portion of the sentence every other weekend.

MSG Eric

But But But, I was told one weekend a month, two weeks a year! What’s this every other weekend stuff?!?!?!?!?”


I’m sure that the idea of using LEO and military to round up a bunch of fellow patriots would, *most likely*, put the order issuer in jeopardy.
Just a hunch.

Retired Grunt

This is coming from the man who was both enlisted and an officer. The officer’s oath is different than the enlisted oath specifically for the reason that an officer is expected to voice dissent even up to the highest office in the land if orders are immoral, illegal or unethical. In the past during my career I have voiced descent to those ranked above me for unethical orders bordering on illegal it almost cost me my retirement but it was my responsibility at least I see it that way

Retired Grunt

On the other hand this does put an end to the argument that I have with my family when I tell them that I am technically still in the army and they say no you’re not you’re retired, lol….

MSG Eric

I actually cringe when people talk about me being a “civilian” after I retire from the Army.

I’m NEVER going to be a “civilian” again, not ever. I’m a veteran, retired Soldier, etc. This definitely helps support that mindset.


So, theoretically, if there was a retired CSM that I despise for a multitude of reasons, who lives in my area, and I was to tell her just exactly what I think of her and exactly why, would I be subject to the UCMJ for disrespecting a senior noncommissioned officer?

Retired Grunt

Technically, yes, practically, no


No. She is not superior.

Particularly if it is who I think it is….LOL

MSG Eric

Technically, there’s no such thing as “Superior” NCO. It only stipulates Senior Non-Commissioned Officers or Warrant Officers. Only Superior Commissioned Officers are detailed in the UCMJ.

I know, I had an O3 I didn’t work for try to counsel me and stipulate “Superior Commissioned Officer” in the counseling which was scratched out because he wasn’t. Thankfully too, as much of a dirtbag as he was.

Comm Center Rat

A CWO5 once told me when I was a CPT, that although I was the ranking officer he would always be the superior officer. He spoke the truth and was the best mentor I ever had in the Army.


25X, I hope I have not stepped on any toes (or anything else) with my comment, but I think we may be on the same page here.

Comm Center Rat

I’ve never committed an offense as a retired Army officer that could lead to my recall to face UCMJ action. I do breathe easier however, since the wear of reflective belts during daylight hours is no longer required on Army installations!


Here is a small part of the article I posted on yesterday’s WOT about this. Also, the courts may be suggesting that retired military members could be subject to court martial b/c of the nexus of receiving retired pay. IDK. This individual might seek back pay as explained below:

“Meanwhile, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Larrabee case may not be the end of the legal road for the retired Marine. According to Vladeck, Larrabee may consider suing for back pay in the Court of Federal Claims. Vladeck believes his client is entitled to do so under the Military Pay Act.”

Interesting concept … If subject to military code of behavior/laws, should the individual be entitled to back pay for the period of time in question? Would this apply to all veterans or only those drawing retired pay? As egregious as is the crime committed by the alleged pedo, Gunnery Sgt. Dinger, I believe the civilian courts should reign supreme in prosecuting these cases.

Retired Grunt

I believe only those drawing retired pay from the regular services. The system we now have was based on the old British system, I believe, where officers without assignments drew “half-pay”. Technially all retired personnel are in the retired reserves. If you want out you have to resign your commission or the equivalent in the enlisted ranks. If you resign, no more pay.


When was the last time they called someone over the age of 65 back to active duty for any reason? Same question about someone, even a surgeon, for instance, who had been retired for over 20 years?

Dill Fouts

Grace Hopper

Honor and Courage

The rules are change as the Demographics change. If you are a pilot or Doctor age makes no difference. If you are breathing they got you. Retire Recall must be signed by a GO. I was recalled at age 62!!!


Colonel Ralph Peters. He wasn’t a General and turns out he’s the pussy, just a smaller one than Obama. A legend in his own mind stuck on stupid part of the status quo globalist collective of asshats.


Well. As amusing as the thought of being prosecuted for an infraction of the UCMJ is, first they’d have to catch me. Then they’d have to deal with a buddy of mine who might make them understand that they want to completely forget how to spell either of our names.

So, could they also prosecute my attorney if he or she happens also to be retired military? Would they pay per diem for the court martial? If so, I want the court martial in Hawaii, OK? Well, sure, they’d have to pay per diem – for exactly the same reason they think they could prosecute retired folks for anything in the first place.

Hey – if we play this right, we could make a whole bunch of money out of this deal.

Green Thumb

They should be.

Honor is honor.

If you are Honorable, 12 of your peers will side with you.


Honor and Courage

Its happened to several Service members in the Army. Its called a UCMJ order, and you are sent to the nearest military location that the offense took place. The request must have supporting documentation, and signed by the convening authority for the offense.

David R Murphy

While that all sounds good, I am a retiree, and 100% disabled, permanent and total, as decided by the VA. Since I am not eligible to be recalled to active duty because of my disabilities, am I still held accountable under the UCMJ? As sited in the above court case, retirees that are eligible for recall to active duty are still under the UCMJ, except for me.


Maybe the powers that be could get to you in the case of an extreme emergency after they recall all the other a little less sick, lame and crazy retirees. Plus, after the crypto-communists/socialists take over and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat, even you will be fair game. Think Stalin left the anyone who was ambulatory out of the meat grinder. Hell, he made soldiers who only had the misfortune of being captured enemies of the people and sent them to his penal battalions, even if walking wounded.


I read this a little differently. The reason the court chose not to hear the case is because they believe they had no jurisdiction. They’re only allowed to hear portions that have been specifically decided by the CAAF. The issue of retirement eligibility for Courts Martial was not an issue decided by the CAAF.

“1. This Court lacks jurisdiction to decide the question petitioner presents because that question was not resolved by the CAAF’s decision in this case. Petitioner errs in contending (Pet. 22-25) that this Court may reach his question under the jurisdictional grant in Section 1259(3).”

They didn’t affirm the Courts Martial right to try, it wasn’t a question they were allowed to answer. As I’m not a lawyer, I’m only interpreting what I read in the court document.

LCpl Rhodes

Good, don’t break the fucking law and you won’t have a problem.

USMC Steve

This is the most ignorant and ill informed crap I have heard spewed from the 9 old pussies on the Potomac since they fucked up Obamacare. the receipt of retirement pay is nothing more than a contractual obligation based upon service. YOu give them a certain amount of your life and they pay you a stipend in retirement pay. That is nothing more than a financial agreement. Nowhere does it imply or clearly state in any way that one is now a slave to the military for the rest of their lives. Further, while retired officers are subject to recall until or unless they resign their commissions, enlisted types who retire or are retired at 20 years, at least in the Marines, after they hit the 30 year mark are not recallable under any circumstances. They are done.

jack burton

I was in the Navy Reserves when Clinton was president. I sure used many contemptuous words concerning him and his concepts of sexual morality in-between my monthly weekend drills.