Constitutional Law – Courts-Martial – Power of Congress to Provide for Military Jurisdiction Over Civilians

During the past term the Supreme Court decided three cases involving the constitutionality of court-martial jurisdiction over certain groups of civilians. In United States ex rel. Toth v. Quarles the Court held that Congress could not constitutionally provide for military trial of a discharged serviceman for offenses committed during his term of service. In two subsequent cases the Court rejected the contention that the Toth decision announced a principle applicable to any exercise of jurisdiction over civilians by the military courts in upholding the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for military jurisdiction over civilian dependents accompanying American servicemen abroad. This comment attempts to ascertain the principles upon which these decisions were based, and to determine their effect on present and potential provisions for military jurisdiction.