Schlesinger, v. Councilman

PETITIONER: Schlesinger,
RESPONDENT: Councilman
LOCATION: Mena Public High School

DOCKET NO.: 73-662
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 420 US 738 (1975)
ARGUED: Dec 10, 1974
DECIDED: Mar 25, 1975

Nicholas D. Garrett - for respondent
O. Christopher Meyers - for respondent
Orin Christopher Meyers -
Robert H. Bork - for petitioners

Facts of the case


Media for Schlesinger, v. Councilman

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 10, 1974 in Schlesinger, v. Councilman

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 25, 1975 in Schlesinger, v. Councilman

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 73-662, Schlesinger against Councilman and in 73-64, Iannelli against the United States will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

In Schlesinger, the case comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

It involves the relationship between the federal civilian courts and the military court system.

Respondent, an Army Captain was charged with marijuana offenses committed while off duty and off base.

He obtained a federal court injunction against his being tried by military court martial.

The Court of Appeals finding that the marijuana offenses were not service connected held that a military court lack jurisdiction to try them.

Accordingly, it sustained the injunction.

We agreed to review the case to resolve conflicting views as to respective powers and responsibilities of Article 3 civilian courts as compared with those of military courts.

Although we conclude that the District Court did have subject matter jurisdiction, we think for reasons stated in the opinion that there was no occasion in this case for the exercise of that jurisdiction.

The system of military courts was established by the Congress which recognized that the military is a specialized society separate from civilian society with laws and traditions of its own developed during a long history.

Strong considerations of policy including the expertise of the military courts favor exhaustion of remedies within that system before it resort to review our collateral attack in civilian courts.

We find nothing in the circumstances of this case that justified injunctive action by the civilian courts.

Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

The Chief Justice filed a separate statement concurring in the judgment.

Mr. Justice Douglas, Mr. Justice Brennan, and Mr. Justice Marshall concurred in part and dissented in part.