Boxer said in a statement that she is encouraged by Hagel's response.
"I believe that we should end the ability of senior commanders to unilaterally overturn a decision or sentence by a military court and from the tenor of his letter, I am hopeful that Secretary Hagel will reach the same conclusion," Boxer said.
Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said she is planning to introduce legislation Tuesday that would strip commanders of the authority to overturn decision or lessen sentences made by courts-martial.
Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, credited Speier for pushing for change, but warned that it could take months to get a bill through Congress. Among the thorny issues to be resolved are what, if any, role commanders should have in the administration of military justice and how current law should be adjusted to reflect a shift, he said.
"No one should be under any illusions that it can be done overnight," Fidell said.