Goldwater v. Carter Case Brief

Why is the case important?

President Carter terminated a treaty with Taiwan without congressional approval.

Facts of the case

President Jimmy Carter acted without congressional approval in ending a defense treaty with Taiwan.


Is this issue of whether a President can terminate a treaty without Congressional approval a non-justiciable political question?


Yes. Whether or not a President can terminate a treaty closely involves his foreing relations authority and therefore is not reviewable by the Supreme Court.


The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the judgment and remanded the case with directions to dismiss the complaint. It noted that the issue was not ripe for judicial review. The Judicial Branch should not decide issues affecting the allocation of power between the President and Congress until the political branches reached a constitutional impasse. Otherwise, the Court would encourage small groups or even individual members of Congress to seek judicial resolution of issues before the normal political process had the opportunity to resolve the conflict.

  • Case Brief: 1979
  • Petitioner: Barry Goldwater et al.
  • Respondent: James Earl Carter, President of the United States, et al.
  • Decided by: Burger Court

Citation: 444 US 996 (1979)
Decided: Dec 13, 1979