United States ex rel. Toth v. Quarles

PETITIONER: United States ex rel. Robert W.Toth
RESPONDENT: Donald A. Quarles, Secretary of the Air Force

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

ARGUED: Feb 08, 1955 / Feb 09, 1955
REARGUED: Oct 13, 1955
DECIDED: Nov 07, 1955

Marvin E. Frankel - for the respondent in the original argument
Simon E. Sobeloff - Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the respondent in the reargument
William A. Kehoe, Jr. - for the petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for United States ex rel. Toth v. Quarles

Audio Transcription for Oral Reargument - October 13, 1955 in United States ex rel. Toth v. Quarles

Earl Warren:

Number 3 on the calendar, United States of America in relation with Audrey M. Toth versus Donald A. Quarles, Secretary of the United States Air Force.

Mr. Kehoe.

William A. Kehoe, Jr.:

If the Court pleases.

The case at far arose upon the filing of a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

We are here before the Court and the case comes before this Court on a writ of certiorari which was granted to the United States -- running to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The facts of the case very briefly stated are as follows.

Toth, the prisoner on whose behalf of petition was filed in the District Court is an honorably discharged serviceman.

He was discharged from the United States Air Forces on December 8, 1952.Prior to his discharge, he had served in Korea.

From the time of his discharge on December 8, 1952 up until the present time, Toth was then and is a civilian resident of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

As to my understanding that at the present time, he is employed by the City of Pittsburgh.

At the time the incidence, which we will allude to in a minute, occurred he was employed in civilian capacity at a steel plant in Pittsburgh.

On April 8, 1953, there was an accusation filed, a sworn accusation filed against Toth by Colonel Hurst, who was attached to the Fifth Air Force in Korea, alleging and accusing Toth of having committed murder and also accusing him of conspiring to commit murder on or about September 27, 1952 at a time prior to his discharge from the service.

On April 30, 1953, the Acting Secretary of the Air Force ordered the apprehension of Toth and his delivery to the commanding officer of the Fifth Air Force in Korea.

On May 11, 1953, I allude to this fact because of the argument that will subsequently be made about who is Toth's commanding officer or who could have been Toth's commanding officer, should be noted that the Secretary of the Air Force ordered him to be delivered to the Commanding General of the Fifth Air Force on May 11, 1953 according to the record.

The Commanding General of the Continental Air Command at Mitchel Air Force Base in New York ordered the apprehension or arrest of Toth.

On May 13, 1953, Toth was arrested by a major and captain, and three air policemen and as they entered his place of employment in Pittsburgh, he was subsequently transported to Korea.

On May 27, at the time the petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed, Toth was in confinement on the order of the Air Forces in Korea and he was in confinement until September 3, 1953 when the District Court sustained the writ of habeas corpus and ordered his discharge.

The issue which is presented to the Court is very broadly stated as whether Congress invalidly enact legislation which would seek the court-martial of a civilian who was not connected with or affiliated in any manner with the Armed Forces and cause such a civilian to be arrested, confined, and transported from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, some 13,000 miles to a foreign country of Korea without any hearing of any type, and there to be held for the purposes of a court-martial.

Our case is broken down into three broad parts.

The first part, if we can put it that way is the failure of authority under the Constitution for Congress to enact legislation, looking to the court-martial of a civilian.

The second part is a complete bar in the Constitution under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.

And the third part, looking to the uniformed code of military justice itself is that there is a casus omissus in the statute.

I would like to make it very clear to the Court a few general statements that Toth at all times, pertinent to the inquiry here, was a civilian.

He is still a civilian.

At the time he was arrested or apprehended by the Air Force police, he was a civilian.

As I stand before the Court this afternoon, he is a civilian.

If when he was arrested, he had worn or was wearing an Air Force uniform or any part of an Air Force uniform which would connect him with the Air Force, he would have been subject and would be presently subject to criminal prosecution in a civil court.

That's under our code.

He had absolutely no connection with the military forces.

He was not a member of the reserve.