Supreme Court Appellate Jurisdiction Over Military Court Cases [March 5, 2009]   [open pdf - 143KB]

This report describes the jurisdiction of military courts over cases involving military service members, including, in some cases, retired service members. Military courts "have the power to convict for crimes defined in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), including both uniquely military offenses and crimes with equivalent definitions in civilian laws. For example, in a 2008 case, United States v. Stevenson, military courts prosecuted a retired serviceman for rape, a crime often tried in civilian courts. The military court system includes military courts-martial; a Criminal Court of Appeals for each branch of the armed services; and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), which has discretionary appellate jurisdiction over all military cases. With the exception of potential final review by the U.S. Supreme Court, these Article I courts handle review of military cases in an appellate system that rarely interacts with Article III courts.[…] Companion bills introduced in the 111th Congress, the Equal Justice for Our Military Act of 2009 (H.R. 569) and the Equal Justice for Our Military Personnel Act of 2009 (S. 357), would authorize appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court for all military cases, including cases that the CAAF declined to review. The House passed a similar measure, H.R. 3174, during the 110th Congress."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL34697
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