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June 02, 2021 RAPID RESPONSE

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Military: A Historical Review of Seminal Cases and Disparate Treatment of Minority Service Members

This panel provides an educational review from a historical perspective of discrimination and the lack of diversity and equity in the military, including historical changes in military justice designed to remove these disparities. It also discusses the status of these matters in today’s Armed Services.  

The discussion includes a review of several historic/seminal courts-martials where minority Soldiers were convicted of crimes without adequate legal defense. It includes a brief discussion of the current findings related to disparity in military justice for minority service members. We review several of the Defense Department’s initiatives related to diversity and inclusion. Finally, the discussion includes any current initiatives/measures to counter this historically inequitable treatment in each of the services.  

This panel includes senior military veterans and retirees who have an interest and desire to help further the dialogue, understanding, and education of all legal professionals in these areas. The death of George Floyd has highlighted the fact that change is still needed.


  • Commander Sara de Groot, Executive Officer, Regional Legal Service Office Naval District Washington
  • Joshua Kastenberg, Associate Professor of Law and Lee & Leon Karelitz Professor in Evidence and Procedure, University of New Mexico School of Law
  • Lieutenant Colonel Carrie Ricci (ret.), Associate General Counsel, Marketing, Regulatory, and Food Safety Programs, USDA


Joint Sponsor: ABA Standing Committee on Armed Forces Law

Co-Sponsors: ABA Coalition on Racial and Ethnic JusticeABA Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & ResponsibilitiesABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender IdentityABA Council for Diversity in the Educational Pipeline


Transcript: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Military: A Historical Review of Seminal Cases and Disparate Treatment of Minority Service Members

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Diversity, Inclusion, and Equal Opportunity in the Armed Services: Background and Issues for Congress

Department of Defense Board on Diversity and Inclusion Report: Recommendations to Improve Racial and Ethnic Diversity and Inclusion in the U.S. Military

From Representation to Inclusion: Diversity Leadership for the 21st-Century Military

Department of Defense Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Department of Defense Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan 2012-2017

How to Outsmart Your Own Unconscious Bias

Getting Serious About Diversity: Enough Already with the Business Case

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