updated 9/22/2006 3:30:00 PM ET 2006-09-22T19:30:00

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday he disagrees but accepts a court ruling that he may no longer serve as a military judge while holding office as a U.S. senator.

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"I will respect the court's decision and will be reassigned to a job where I can use my legal talents within the confines of the court decision," the South Carolina Republican said.

Graham is a colonel in the U.S. Air Force Standby Reserve and was assigned as a reserve judge to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled on Thursday that Graham's service as a judge violates the Constitution which prohibits members of Congress from also holding another United States office.

The issue arose after an Air Force airman convicted in a military court of cocaine use challenged Graham's qualifications saying it was a conflict of interest.

2006 key racesThe court, in its ruling, found that service by a member of Congress "performing independent judicial functions runs afoul of the fundamental constitutional principals of separation of powers."

"I disagreed with the court, but I respect the court's decision," Graham said. "I've been a prosecutor, defense attorney _ I've been a military lawyer for over 20 years. I enjoyed my time as a judge and I am ready to serve in another capacity."

He added, "I intend to stay in the military as long as I can be effective, and I have really enjoyed the service."

The Judge Advocate General of the Air Force is considering whether to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Air Force said.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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