Weiss v. United States

RESPONDENT:United States
LOCATION:Residence of Margaret Gilleo

DOCKET NO.: 92-1482
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1993-1994)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

CITATION: 510 US 163 (1994)
ARGUED: Nov 03, 1993
DECIDED: Jan 19, 1994

Alan B. Morrison – on behalf of the Petitioner
Days – argued the cause for the United States
Drew S. Days, III – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Weiss v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 03, 1993 in Weiss v. United States

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 19, 1994 in Weiss v. United States

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in No. 92-1482, Weiss against the United States.

Petitioner Weiss, a United States Marine, pleaded guilty at a special court-martial to one count of larceny.

The Court of Military Appeals granted discretionary review to address his claim that the military judges in his case had no authority to convict him, because their appointments violated the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, and because their lack of a fixed term of office violated the Due Process Clause of the Constitution.

The Court of Military Appeals rejected the due process challenge and in a divided opinion, also, has rejected the Appointment Clause challenge.

In an opinion filed with the Clerk today, we affirm the Court of Military Appeals.

We first conclude that the current method of appointing military judges does not violate the Appointments Clause.

That clause requires the President to appoint offices of the United States, with the advice and consent of the Senate.

All of the judges involve in petitioner’s cases were already commissioned military officers when they were assigned to serve as judges, and thus they have already been appointed pursuant to the Appointments Clause.

We do not believe that Congress, as by implication, required a second appointment under the clause before qualified military officers can serve as military judges.

And we do not think the language of the Appointments Clause, by its own force, requires a second appointment.

Turning next to petitioner’s due process challenge, we recognize that the military contacts is unique, and requires that we ask whether the factor is militating in favor of a fixed term of office for military judges are so weighty, that they overcome the balance strucked by Congress.

Based on the complete absence of 10-year judges in the military, as the historical matter, and the number of safeguards currently in place to ensure that military judges remain impartial, we conclude that the lack of fixed term of office by military judges does not violate the Due Process Clause.

Justice Ginsburg and Justice Souter have filed opinions concurring; Justice Scalia has filed an opinion concurring in part concurring in the judgment which is joined by Justice Thomas.