LOCATION: Elizabeth Township, Allegheny County
DOCKET NO.: 98-347
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
CITATION: 526 US 529 (1999)
ARGUED: Mar 22, 1999
DECIDED: May 17, 1999
John M. Economidy - Argued the cause for the respondent
Michael R. Dreeben - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Facts of the case
James T. Goldsmith, an Air Force major, defied an order from a superior officer to inform his sex partners that he was infected with HIV and to take measures to block any transfer of bodily fluids during sexual intercourse. Goldsmith was convicted by general court-martial under several counts and sentenced to six years' confinement and partial forfeiture of salary. The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. Goldsmith sought no review of the decision in the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) and his conviction became final. Subsequently, the Air Force notified Goldsmith that it was taking action to drop him from the rolls under a newly enacted statute. Goldsmith then petitioned the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals for extraordinary relief under the All Writs Act, which authorizes courts established by Congress to "issue all writs necessary and appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions," to redress the unrelated alleged interruption of his HIV medication during his incarceration, but did not immediately contest his removal from the Air Force rolls. The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to act. On appeal to the CAAF from this determination, Goldsmith first asserted the claim that the Air Force's action to drop him violated the Ex Post Facto and Double Jeopardy Clauses of the Constitution. He argued that the statute had been enacted after the date of his court-martial conviction and that the action would inflict successive punishment based on the same conduct underlying his first conviction. The CAAF granted his petition for extraordinary relief to redress the interruption of his HIV medication and relied on the All Writs Act in enjoining the President and other officials from dropping Goldsmith from the Air Force rolls.
Does the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces have the jurisdiction under the All Writs Act to enjoin the President and various military officials from dropping a convict from the rolls of the Air Force?
Media for Clinton v. GoldsmithAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 22, 1999 in Clinton v. Goldsmith
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 17, 1999 in Clinton v. Goldsmith
The opinion of the Court in No. 98-347, Clinton versus Goldsmith will be announced by Justice Souter.
This case comes to us on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
Respondent Goldsmith is a Major in the United States Air Force who disobeyed an order to tell his sex partners that he was infected with HIV and to take precautions in having sexual relations.
He was convicted by General court-martial of lawful disobedience and sentenced to six years confinement and partial forfeiture of his salary.
The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed and when Goldsmith did not seek review of that decision his conviction became final.
Subsequently, the Air Force invoked a newly enacted statute authorizing the President to drop from the rolls of the armed forces.
Any officer who had both been sentenced by court-martial more than six months confinement and had served at least six months time and the Air Force notified Goldsmith that it was taking action to drop him from the rolls.
Goldsmith did not contest the Air Forces' plan immediately, but instead petitioned to Court of Criminal Appeals for extraordinary release to redress the unrelated alleged interruption of his HIV medication while in confinement.
The court ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to act and it was in Goldsmith's appeal from that decision that he first asserted a claim that the Air Forces' decision to drop him violated the Ex Post Facto and Double Jeopardy Clauses of the Constitution.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces responded favorably to these claims and relied on the All Writs Act to enjoin the President and other officials from dropping Goldsmiths from Air Force rolls.
We granted certiorari and now reverse.
The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces is an Article I Court with strictly circumscribes statutory authority to review findings and sentences imposed by courts-martial.
The All Writs Act authorizes the court only to issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of its jurisdiction.
Since the Air Force's action to drop Goldsmiths in the rolls was not a finding or a sentence that was or could have been imposed in a court-marshal proceeding.
It was beyond the court's jurisdiction to review and hence beyond the aid of the All Writs Act in reviewing it.
Even if the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces had some arguable bases for jurisdiction, resort to the All Writs Act would still be out of bounds, it is not a necessary or appropriate in light of the alternative remedies available to a service member demanding to be kept on the rolls.
In this case Goldsmith could present his claim to the Air Force Board of Correction for Military Records.
A civilian body with broad ranging authority to consider service members claims.
He may also have recourse to the Federal Trial Courts by bringing either a challenge under the Administrative Procedure Act or else a claim for monetary relief under the Tucker Act.
The opinion of the Court is unanimous.