Supreme Court rules it has jurisdiction over military court of appeals
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Supreme Court rules it has jurisdiction over military court of appeals

The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Friday in Ortiz v. United States [SCOTUSblog materials] that it has jurisdiction to review decisions made by the Court of Appeals of the Armed Forces. It also held that simultaneously serving on both the Court of Military Commissions Review (CMCR) and the Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) is lawful.

Dalmazzi v. United States [docket], Cox v. United States [docket] and Ortiz v. United States [docket] were three cases consolidated. Each of the petitioners were members of the Air Force who were convicted [JURIST report] of different crimes in a military court. They appealed their convictions on the grounds that only members of the military can preside over a military court, and the judges in the petitioners’ cases were civilians because of their CMCR position.

“[T]he Constitution grants Congress an unqualified power: to legislate for the District ‘in all Cases whatsoever.’ Art. I, §8, cl. 17 … When Congress invoked that authority to create a set of local courts, this Court upheld the legislation—even though the judges on those courts lacked Article III protections,” wrote Justice Elena Kagan for the majority.

Regarding whether one person may serve on the two different military courts within the CMCR, the court said there is no reason serving on both would result in an “undue influence” on his colleagues nor a conflict of interest.

“The CMCR does not review the CCA’s decisions (or vice versa); indeed, the two courts do not have any overlapping jurisdiction. They are parts of separate judicial systems, adjudicating different kinds of charges against different kinds of defendants.”