Kinsella v. Krueger

PETITIONER: Kinsella, Warden

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1955-1956)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

ARGUED: May 03, 1956
DECIDED: Jun 11, 1956

Facts of the case

Kinsella v. Krueger is an important case study that demonstrates the way the Constitution of the United States can supersede international treaties that were previously ratified by the Senate. Basing on the decision, the Court proved the supremacy of the Constitution over the treaties. Even if the cases were not associated with a treaty in the legal sense, it was eventually shown that the agreement was ruled unconstitutional.

In this example, Dorothy Smith, a wife of an officer of the United States Army was convicted by a court-martial in Japan for the murder of her husband, Colonel Smith. She stabbed a man with a long hunting knife when he was sleeping in their Army accommodation in Japan. She tried to staunch the flow of blood, but she failed. Their maid, Sheigeko Tani, saw her holding a knife. She took it away from her. Then their neighbor and fellow saw Dorothy trying to light a cigarette.

After this incident, Colonel Smith was taken to Army Hospital in Tokyo. He died later from in the morning from the major loss of blood. His wife was taken to the isolation ward for observation. It should be mentioned that previously, she had attended two months' treatment for the mental disease after she had tried to commit suicide on the ship one year before this murder.

Her personal physician informed the court that she was a subject of neurotic explosions. For example, she tried to slash her wrists many times, and she also assaulted another wife in their Army. The officer believed that she could tell right from wrong, but he was not sure she could adhere to the right. The case brief concluded that she was sentenced to life imprisonment and sent to a federal prison in the United States.


Media for Kinsella v. Krueger