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The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials$

Kevin Heller and Gerry Simpson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199671144

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199671144.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 19 January 2021

Eisentrager’s (Forgotten) Merits

Eisentrager’s (Forgotten) Merits

Military Jurisdiction and Collateral Habeas

(p.193) 9 Eisentrager’s (Forgotten) Merits
The Hidden Histories of War Crimes Trials

Stephen I. Vladeck

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the Supreme Court's 1950 ruling in Johnson v Eisentrager, where twenty-seven German nationals captured in China were tried by a US military commission for war crimes based on their continuing support of the Japanese military after Germany's surrender on 8 May 1945. Twenty-one of the defendants were convicted and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five years' to life imprisonment. After being transferred back to Germany to serve their sentences, the twenty-one convicted defendants sought habeas relief in the US courts; their claims were ultimately rejected by the Supreme Court by a six to three vote. The chapter analyses how the Supreme Court reached that decision.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, US Constitution, habeas, German nationals, military commission, war crimes

No pre-September 11 decision by the US Supreme Court has figured more prominently in contemporary debates over the extraterritorial scope of the US Constitution than the Court’s 1950 ruling in Johnson v Eisentrager.1 Although Eisentrager has been vigorously debated, its result is undisputed: twenty-seven German nationals2 captured in China were tried by a US military commission for war crimes based on their continuing participation in hostilities in support of the Japanese military after Germany’s 8 May 1945 surrender (and before Japan’s surrender on 15 August).3 Twenty-one of the defendants were convicted by the commission and sentenced to prison terms ranging from five years’ to life imprisonment.4 After being transferred back to Germany to serve their sentences, the twenty-one convicted defendants sought habeas relief in the US courts, only to have the Supreme Court ultimately reject their claims by a six to three vote.5

The difficulty arises in ascertaining how the Supreme Court reached that result. In his 1990 opinion in United States v Verdugo-Urquidez,6 Chief Justice Rehnquist described Eisentrager as ‘reject[ing] the claim that aliens are entitled (p.194) to Fifth Amendment rights outside the sovereign territory of the United States’.7 Relying on that passage, a number of contemporary US courts and commentators routinely cite Eisentrager for the proposition that non-citizens detained outside the territorial United States have no rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.8 In a similar vein, still others have described Eisentrager as holding that the US Constitution’s Suspension Clause, which protects a detainee’s access to judicial review via writs of habeas corpus, does not apply to the extraterritorial detention of non-citizens.9 Thus, one of the most common criticisms of the Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Boumediene v Bush, which held that the Suspension Clause ‘has full effect’ with regard to the detention of non-citizens at Guantánamo Bay,10 is a lack of fealty to Eisentrager.11

And yet, as then-Solicitor-General Paul Clement so succinctly put it during the oral argument before the Supreme Court in Hamdan v Rumsfeld,12 Eisentrager is a case with ‘an awful lot of alternative holdings’.13 Although the majority opinion was authored by Justice Robert H. Jackson—routinely hailed as one of the Court’s greatest writers—its analysis comes off as disjointed, if not internally inconsistent.14 Indeed, whatever else one may say about the majority opinion in Eisentrager, it seems difficult to read the decision as articulating a categorical rule concerning the extraterritorial constitutional rights of non-citizens in light of the careful and repeated attention that the Court paid to the specific circumstances of the case.15

But why did those circumstances matter? In this chapter, I aim to answer that question—and to explain why Eisentrager has been so unclear to contemporary readers—by focusing on the one source almost completely neglected by present-day discussions of the 1950 Supreme Court decision: the underlying military commission proceedings.16 Indeed, for as much attention as Eisentrager has received, surprisingly little attention has been paid to the war crimes trial from which the litigation arose—even though at least some records of the proceedings are (p.195) easily accessible; and even though, as I explain in the pages that follow, a full appreciation of the proceedings sheds significant light on Justice Jackson’s analytical approach.

Thus, Section I begins by providing a detailed overview of the Eisentrager military commission. As Section I explains, the central contention made by the petitioners in Eisentrager was not that they had been deprived of constitutional rights during their military commission trial; rather, their claim was that, for various reasons, the commission lacked jurisdiction to try them.17 Indeed, even in front of the commission itself, the defendants’ ‘main argument’, as the official report on the proceedings later summarized,18 challenged the tribunal’s power to try them, and not whether the defendants in fact had supported Japanese forces in China subsequent to Germany’s 8 May surrender. No arguments were made at any point in the commission concerning the defendants’ constitutional rights; that issue only arose once the DC Circuit rested its jurisdiction to reach the merits on its view of the defendants’ constitutional entitlement to judicial review.19

The significance of the Eisentrager defendants’ jurisdictional argument becomes clearer in Section II, which turns to the jurisprudential background against which Eisentrager was decided. Indeed, in 1950, it was black-letter law that the only claim US federal courts could adjudicate in a collateral attack upon a conviction by a military court was whether the military had properly exercised jurisdiction—regardless of whether the defendant was a citizen or a foreign national, or whether the military trial took place within or without the territorial United States.20 As Chief Justice Stone wrote for the Court in 1946 in In re Yamashita:

[O]‌n application for habeas corpus we are not concerned with the guilt or innocence of the petitioners. We consider here only the lawful power of the commission to try the petitioner for the offence charged. In the present cases it must be recognised throughout that the military tribunals which Congress has sanctioned by the Articles of War are not courts whose rulings and judgments are made subject to review by this Court. They are tribunals whose determinations are reviewable by the military authorities either as provided in the military orders constituting such tribunals or as provided by the Articles of War. Congress conferred on the courts no power to review their determinations save only as it has granted judicial power ‘to grant writs of habeas corpus for the purpose of an inquiry into the cause of the restraint of liberty’. The courts may inquire whether the detention complained of is within the authority of those detaining the petitioner. If the military tribunals have lawful authority to hear, decide and condemn, their action is not subject to judicial review merely because they have made a wrong decision on disputed facts. Correction of their errors of decision is not for the courts but for the military authorities which are alone authorised to review their decisions.21

(p.196) Three years after Eisentrager, the Court expanded the scope of habeas review of courts-martial in Burns v Wilson,22 a holding that likely applies as well to collateral review of military commissions.23 But at least at the time that Eisentrager was decided, the only question that the federal courts had the power to adjudicate was whether the military commission properly exercised jurisdiction.

Section III turns to the proceedings before the Supreme Court in Eisentrager in light of the factual background provided in Section I and the legal background provided in Section II. Although there are any number of statements in Justice Jackson’s majority opinion that, out of context, may well support the broad view of Eisentrager embraced by Chief Justice Rehnquist in Verdugo-Urquidez and popular among numerous contemporary commentators, the Court’s focus on the commission’s ‘jurisdiction’ in Parts III and IV of the majority opinion drives home the crucial point—that Eisentrager was ultimately a merits decision, that is, a holding by the Court that the commission that convicted the petitioners properly exercised jurisdiction.24 Because of that conclusion, the petitioners’ entitlement to due process and/or habeas corpus was moot; there was nothing more for the federal courts to do.

Ultimately, then, Eisentrager’s history is hiding in plain sight in the nature of the arguments made by the military commission defendants. And that hidden history provides a far more convincing and compelling explanation for the Supreme Court’s disposition of the defendants’ claims—and for an exceedingly limited view of the 1950 decision’s future doctrinal relevance.

(I) United States v Eisentrager et al

The only truly unusual aspect of the military commission proceedings in United States v Eisentrager was the nature of the charges. Although the US government convened hundreds of military commissions to try Axis war criminals after the end of World War II, the Eisentrager proceedings were, from the start, unique. Indeed, the factual idiosyncrasies may help to explain why, of all the post-war US military commission proceedings, Eisentrager would be one of only two that drew the attention of the US Supreme Court.

(1) Factual background

At the heart of the prosecution’s case in Eisentrager was the role of the ‘Bureau Ehrhardt’, which the US government claimed was a ‘unit of the German High Command’, and which the defendants claimed was a civilian agency of the (p.197) German government. Whether de facto or de jure, it was undisputed that Bureau Ehrhardt was an intelligence agency run by Ludwig Ehrhardt—also known as Lothar Eisentrager—who himself was employed by the German Embassy in Japanese-occupied China during the war. Through a combination of official and unofficial channels, Bureau Ehrhardt effectively served as the intelligence and propaganda apparatus for German interests in China throughout the hostilities in Asia. And although some of the twenty-seven defendants were not directly employed by the Bureau, all were allegedly involved in its operations in some way.

The central claim that gave rise to the Eisentrager war crimes trial was the allegation that, after Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945, Bureau Ehrhardt continued to operate in Shanghai, Canton (present-day Guangzhou), and Peking (Beijing), by furnishing various forms of aid (including the facilitation of Japanese access to German-owned materiel) and military intelligence directly to Japanese armed forces stationed in China. Indeed, the government introduced a telegram Ehrhardt/Eisentrager sent to all of his subordinates on 8 May 1945, which specifically provided:

  1. (1) that the organization ceased to exist and its members were to be demobilized;

  2. (2) that equipment should be turned over to Japanese authorities who were to be instructed how to use it; and

  3. (3) that the question of continuing work in cooperation with the Japanese was left to the discretion of every individual member of the organization.25

Although Erhardt argued that the telegram was meant to be taken at face value (and, as such, proved that the Bureau had formally demobilized), the government introduced substantial evidence proving that the Bureau’s employees took it to mean exactly the opposite—that ‘the telegram was so worded as to suggest that co-operation with the Japanese was desirable, or even ordered’.26 The government also introduced evidence of a series of ongoing contacts between Bureau employees and the Japanese military, which apparently sought only to expand the role that the Bureau played both in providing intelligence to support Japanese manoeuvres in China throughout June and July 1945 and in designing propaganda intended to reach US troops engaged with Japanese forces throughout the Pacific Rim. To that end, the government proffered a single charge against all twenty-seven defendants—that they:

[k]‌nowingly, wilfully and unlawfully, violate[d] the unconditional German surrender by engaging in and continuing military activity against the United States and its allies, to wit by furnishing, ordering, authorising, permitting and failing to stop the furnishing of aid, assistance, information, advice, intelligence, propaganda and material to the Japanese armed forces and agencies, thereby by such acts of treachery assisting Japan in waging war against the United States of American in violation of the laws and customs of war.27

(p.198) The defendants were taken into custody by US forces sometime after the Japanese surrender in China in September 1945. In January 1946, the US military issued an order creating military commissions to try war criminals captured in the Chinese theatre for offences committed therein. The trial in Eisentrager itself took place in Nanking between 3 October 1946, and 14 January 1947. Other than the dispute over whether they acted independently or under continued coordination, the defendants did not materially contest the factual allegations. Instead, they offered three distinct sets of defences—one jurisdictional, and two on the merits.

The jurisdictional objection was three-fold. First, the defendants argued that, as German nationals living in China, they could only be subject to German or Chinese law in German or Chinese courts. Second, and relatedly, the defendants argued that the 1943 abrogation by treaty of the US Court for China deprived the United States of any alternative basis to assert jurisdiction over the defendants. Finally, the defendants claimed that the agreement between the United States and China on which the military commission’s jurisdiction was predicated was irrelevant, both because (1) it was never ratified by the Legislative Assembly of the Republic of China; and (2) the authority it conveyed could only be exercised by an ‘occupation’ force, and not by an expeditionary force on allied soil (as the United States military necessarily was once Japan surrendered to China).

On the merits, the defendants also offered three arguments in favour of a motion to dismiss the charges. First, the defendants claimed that the charges did not state sufficient facts to support a violation of the laws of war. Second, and related, the defendants argued that even if the charges were factually sufficient, ‘a violation of certain terms by individuals although punishable, does not constitute a war crime unless the acts constituting the violation thereof are such as in themselves constitute a violation of the laws and customs of war’. In other words, even if defendants violated the surrender, that by itself was not enough to render them subject to trial by military commission. Finally, the defendants attacked the charges for failing to allege that the defendants had received ‘official’ notice of Germany’s 8 May surrender, even though they conceded that they had actual notice.

(2) The Commission’s rulings

The jurisdictional argument to which the commission devoted the most attention was the first one—that the defendants could only be subjected to German or Chinese law for crimes committed on Chinese soil. Relying on the earlier military commission decision in the Sawada case, the Eisentrager commission ruled that ‘[t]‌he laws and usages of war are of universal application, and do not depend for their existence upon national laws and frontiers’.28 This conclusion proved dispositive of the defendants’ two other jurisdictional challenges; from the commission’s perspective, it followed that, once the Chinese government invited US forces onto Chinese soil, that invitation rendered beside the point whatever constraints would (p.199) otherwise have existed on the US government’s power over the defendants. Relying heavily on the US Supreme Court’s holding in the Yamashita case that prosecuting war criminals is an inherent incident to the war power more generally, the commission thereby dismissed the jurisdictional objections.

As for the defendants’ claims on the merits, the heart of their legal argument went to the contention that violating the terms of Germany’s surrender was not a war crime. In responding to this contention, the commission’s analysis appears to have rested on a series of interrelated conclusions. First, the 8 May 1945 Act of Military Surrender was explicit and unambiguous in its applicability in ‘all theatres of war’ against forces of the ‘United Nations’. Second, the conduct Bureau Ehrhardt allegedly engaged in subsequent to the 8 May surrender appeared to fall within the scope of the Act of Military Surrender’s definition of hostilities, Article 9 of which provided that ‘[p]‌ending the institution of control by the Allied Representative over all means of communication, all radio and telecommunication installations and other forms of wire or wireless communications, whether ashore or afloat, under German control, will cease transmission except as directed by the Allied Representatives’.29

Third, both custom and usage supported the conclusion that post-surrender hostilities constituted a war crime when such hostilities were committed by assisting the forces of an allied belligerent who had not yet surrendered. Thus, the official report of the commission invoked Articles 40 and 41 of the 1907 Hague Convention; the then-leading international law treatise; and the decision in the Scuttled U-Boat Case, in which a lieutenant in the German navy was convicted of violating the Act of Military Surrender by scuttling a pair of U-Boats rather than surrendering them to the Allies.30 As the reporter summarized, the defendants tried to distinguish that precedent by suggesting that hostilities were ongoing in the Pacific theatre, and so, unlike the defendant in Scuttled U-Boat, they had a ‘perfect right’ to join forces with the Japanese (who had not participated in the European theatre). The commission rejected the argument, and its decision was subsequently read as establishing that:

members of the armed forces of a belligerent whose entire armed forces have surrendered must abstain from all hostilities wherever they may find themselves on the date of such surrender[,]‌ and that by co-operating with an allied belligerent and a fortiori by joining the forces of such belligerent, they violate the terms of surrender and thus commit a war crime.31

Fourth, and finally, the commission rejected the argument that some of the defendants were not bound by the surrender because they were civilian employees of the German government, and therefore not within the military chain of command. Indeed, given that some of the defendants were convicted despite the fact that they were not formally part of the Bureau Ehrhardt, the commission’s (p.200) decision established that ‘the terms of surrender applied to all nationals of the surrendering belligerent and not only to the armed forces’.32 Since ‘all such nationals must…refrain from activities which are either considered to be military activities or contrary to the terms of surrender’,33 the only remaining question was whether the prosecution could establish that each of the defendants had in fact engaged in such conduct between 8 May and 15 August 1945. Presumably, in the cases of the six defendants who were acquitted at the close of the prosecution’s case-in-chief (Glietsch, Otto, Randow, Schenke, Steller, and Woermann), the government was not able to adduce sufficient proof. The other twenty-one defendants were found guilty at the close of the defence case.

Although Ehrhardt/Eisentrager himself was sentenced to life imprisonment, the other twenty defendants were sentenced to prison terms ranging from five to thirty years. After their convictions, the twenty-one defendants were transferred to Landsberg Prison in Germany to serve their sentences. Three of the sentences were subsequently reduced by the Reviewing Authority, Major General John P. Lucas, who confirmed the remaining judgments on 10 May 1947.34 Less than one year later, habeas petitions were filed on behalf of the twenty-one convicted defendants in the US District Court for the District of Columbia by A. Frank Reel, the same Boston lawyer who had defended General Yamashita before a US military commission in 1945, and then unsuccessfully appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court.35

(3) Habeas proceedings in the lower courts

The habeas petition in Eisentrager v Forrestal was filed in the DC District Court on 26 April 1948 against a rather complex (and evolving) jurisprudential backdrop. For obvious reasons, the US federal courts had begun to receive a number of habeas petitions from individuals held overseas beginning in early 1946.36 Although the first cases involved US soldiers challenging their courts-martial for abuses committed while serving abroad, convicted German and Japanese war criminals began to seek relief in the US courts as early as October 1947—when Field Marshal Erhard Milch sought to challenge his conviction by the Nuremberg Military Tribunal (NMT) in the US Supreme Court. The Justices denied review by a four to four vote (Justice Jackson, the lead US prosecutor before the International Military Tribunal, understandably recused),37 at least largely because it was unclear whether the Supreme Court had the power to entertain such an ‘original’ action.38

(p.201) If the claims could not be brought directly in the Supreme Court, the next candidate would be to file in the lower federal courts, and then potentially appeal an unfavourable decision to the Justices (who would have had statutory appellate jurisdiction in such cases). But on 21 June 1948, at almost the exact same time as the Eisentrager petitioners filed their suit, the Supreme Court created a new jurisdictional obstacle. Specifically, the Court held in Ahrens v Clark that the federal habeas corpus statute only authorized jurisdiction in a detainee’s ‘district of confinement’.39 While such a rule served merely as a choice-of-venue provision for individuals detained within the United States, it necessarily raised the question of whether district courts could not thereby exercise statutory jurisdiction over habeas petitions brought by individuals detained outside the territorial jurisdiction of any district court, such as the petitioners in Eisentrager. And although the Justices in Ahrens were clearly aware of the pending war crimes cases, they expressly punted on this question, noting only that ‘[w]‌e need not determine the question of what process, if any, a person confined in an area not subject to the jurisdiction of any district court may employ to assert federal rights’.40

Whereas Ahrens may have purported to leave the question open, analysis by contemporaneous (and future) commentators suggested that its reasoning compelled the same answer. As Professor Charles Fairman put it in the Stanford Law Review, ‘if the statute makes the presence of the petitioner a requisite to jurisdiction, how can it make any difference whether the detention is in no district rather than a different district?’41 Unfortunately, in ruling on the Eisentrager habeas petition, Judge Edward Tamm did not even reach that question, incorrectly concluding instead that ‘[t]‌he facts at issue were directly raised before the Supreme Court’ in Ahrens, and that ‘the Supreme Court has specifically passed upon the question of law presented to this Court’.42 Although the Supreme Court had done no such thing, Judge Tamm’s ruling thereby provoked an unnecessary constitutional question: Does the Constitution itself require access to a habeas remedy for all individuals in US custody, such that courts must act even in the absence of statutory jurisdiction?

Rather than reverse the district court for misreading Ahrens (as it quite clearly had), the DC Circuit on appeal reached out to decide the constitutional question. As Judge E. Barrett Prettyman wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel:

The question here is not whether a court, either state or federal, can exercise its judicial power within the jurisdiction of another and independent government. The question is whether it can exercise that power upon those Government officials within its territorial jurisdiction who have directive power over the immediate jailer outside the United States but acting solely upon authority of this Government. We think that it can, if that be the only means of applying the Constitution to a given governmental action.43

(p.202) Thus, the Court of Appeals held that the Suspension Clause of the US Constitution required the court to read the habeas statute as not foreclosing jurisdiction—that, in effect, the Suspension Clause protected access to the US courts for all individuals in US custody anywhere in the world. Decided in April 1949, at a time when the US military continued to detain hundreds of thousands of enemy soldiers around the world, it is little surprise that the Truman Administration expeditiously sought review from the US Supreme Court.

(II) The US Supreme Court and the Scope of Collateral Habeas

The sweeping rhetoric of the DC Circuit’s analysis helped obfuscate the narrowness of the detainees’ substantive claim on the merits—that the US military commission that convicted them was without jurisdiction to try them. That nuance is critical, given that Eisentrager reached the Supreme Court just as the Justices were in the midst of dramatically expanding the scope of collateral review of criminal convictions in other contexts (and debating the proper scope of collateral review of military courts).44 Thus, to understand why the ‘jurisdictional’ nature of the challenge in Eisentrager was so central, this section provides a broader introduction to the Supreme Court’s evolving approach to the scope of collateral review—and where things stood on 14 November 1949, when the Justices accepted the government’s appeal of the DC Circuit’s decision in Eisentrager.45

(1) Collateral review of state court convictions

Since at least the Habeas Corpus Act of 1867, if not before, the federal courts unquestionably had statutory jurisdiction to entertain habeas petitions by individuals in custody pursuant to a state court conviction, so long as their petition alleged that they were in custody in violation of federal law.46 And there was no question that federal prisoners similarly could repair to habeas as a means of collaterally attacking a federal conviction.47 The more significant issue was the scope of review federal courts could undertake in exercizing that jurisdiction.

Initially, and into the 1930s, federal courts generally followed the same rule in collateral habeas proceedings that they followed in other collateral attacks on judgments. The only basis on which a judgment could collaterally be invalidated (p.203) was if the court that rendered the judgment acted without jurisdiction.48 Any non-jurisdictional errors, no matter their extent, could not furnish an appropriate basis for habeas relief, because ‘the writ of habeas corpus cannot be used as a writ of error’.49 Thus, the Supreme Court’s two famous habeas corpus decisions from the early decades of the twentieth century—Frank v Mangum 50 and Moore v Dempsey 51—both turned on claims that the state court was unable properly to exercise its jurisdiction because of the mob violence surrounding the underlying trials.

In 1938, the Supreme Court took the first tentative but critical step toward a broader scope of collateral review in Johnson v Zerbst.52 There, the Court held that it had the power in a habeas proceeding to reach the merits of the defendant’s claim that he had been denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel, even though such a right had not previously been thought to implicate the ‘jurisdiction’ of the trial court.53 Writing for a 5-2 majority, Justice Black explained that, ‘[s]‌ince the Sixth Amendment constitutionally entitles one charged with crime to the assistance of counsel, compliance with this constitutional mandate is an essential jurisdictional prerequisite to a federal court’s authority to deprive an accused of his life or liberty’.54 Of course, one could make similar arguments about a host of other constitutional rights, and so the holding in Zerbst, despite its ‘kiss [of] the jurisdictional book’,55 may just as much have spelled its demise.

So it was less than four years later that the Court in Waley v Johnston 56 dropped any requirement that a claim be ‘jurisdictional’ in order to form a proper basis for collateral relief via habeas. Instead, the Court concluded, albeit without much discussion, that:

the use of the writ in the federal courts to test the constitutional validity of a conviction for crime is not restricted to those cases where the judgment of conviction is void for want of jurisdiction of the trial court to render it. It extends also to those exceptional cases where the conviction has been in disregard of the constitutional rights of the accused, and where the writ is the only effective means of preserving his rights.57

To be fair, it would only be subsequent Supreme Court decisions—including those allowing de novo re-litigation of constitutional claims rejected by state courts58 and the de novo litigation of claims never even raised in the state courts59—that would receive fame (or infamy) for so dramatically expanding the federal courts’ role in supervising state criminal trials. But it was Zerbst and Waley that ‘blazed a new trail’ (as Justice Frankfurter put it in 1953),60 and opened the door for the jurisprudence that followed.

(p.204) (2) Collateral review of courts-martial

Until the decision in Zerbst, the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence concerning the scope of collateral review of convictions by military courts was no different from its approach to civilian courts. As Chief Justice Fuller explained in 1900:

Courts Martial are lawful tribunals, with authority to finally determine any case over which they have jurisdiction, and their proceedings, when confirmed as provided, are not open to review by the civil tribunals, except for the purpose of ascertaining whether the military court had jurisdiction of the person and subject matter, and whether, though having such jurisdiction, it had exceeded its powers in the sentence pronounced.61

It may not have made sense to use the same standard as in collateral review of civilian courts since, unlike their civilian brethren, military courts were not at the time subject to appellate review by any civilian court—including the US Supreme Court.62 Nevertheless, the Court repeatedly held fast to the view that, in collateral challenges to convictions by courts-martial ‘[t]‌he single inquiry, the test, is jurisdiction’.63

Tellingly, even as the Court was expanding the scope of collateral review of civilian courts in Zerbst and Waley, it left the scope of collateral review of military tribunals alone. It wasn’t until 1947 that any federal court purported to apply Zerbst’s broader conception of ‘jurisdiction’ to collateral review of a court-martial,64 and no decision appears to have applied Waley. More to the point, in Hiatt v Brown, decided by the Supreme Court just over one month before it heard oral argument in Eisentrager, the Justices applied the classical ‘jurisdictional’ rule to a collateral attack on a court-martial without any discussion of Zerbst or Waley.65 Writing for the Court, Justice Clark chastised the DC Circuit for:

extending its review, for the purpose of determining compliance with the due process clause, to such matters as the propositions of law set forth in the staff judge advocate’s report, the sufficiency of the evidence to sustain respondent’s conviction, the adequacy of the pretrial investigation, and the competence of the law member and defence counsel.66

As Clark explained, ‘the court-martial had jurisdiction of the person accused and the offence charged, and acted within its lawful powers. The correction of any errors it may have committed is for the military authorities which are alone authorized to review its decision’.67

The law with regard to courts-martial would change in 1953 when, in Burns v Wilson, the Court expanded the scope of review to claims that the military court failed to give ‘full and fair consideration’ to the defendant’s constitutional objections.68 The ‘full and fair consideration’ standard has not gone un-criticized, but (p.205) whereas it is beyond question that it represents a broader scope of review than that which had previously been available, the critical point for present purposes is the state of the law in the spring of 1950. At least with regard to courts-martial, Hiatt demonstrated that it was crystal clear—and limited to ‘jurisdictional’ challenges in the classical sense.

(3) Collateral review of military commissions

Although the Supreme Court circa 1950 had considered far fewer cases involving collateral attacks on the judgments of military commissions (as opposed to courts-martial), there was no reason to suspect that the scope of review differed as between the two. Indeed, in both Ex parte Quirin 69 and In re Yamashita,70 the Court had framed the question before it as whether the military commission properly exercised jurisdiction, invoking its court-martial jurisprudence as precedent.71 To similar effect, the Court’s Civil War-era decisions in Ex parte Vallandigham 72 and Ex parte Milligan 73 reflected identical jurisdictional precepts, with the Justices rejecting their jurisdiction to entertain an ‘appeal’ from a military commission in Vallandigham,74 and concluding on collateral review that the commission in Milligan lacked jurisdiction.75

Indeed, the only wrinkle that appeared in the World War II-era cases arose in instances in which defendants were convicted by military commissions arguably convened under international, rather than US, authority. Thus, the US Supreme Court rejected its jurisdiction to entertain a habeas petition challenging the judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Hirota v MacArthur,76 even if the Justices were (deliberately) unclear as to whether the defect went solely to their power to hear such an ‘original’ claim, or to the power of the federal courts more generally to review such international tribunals.77 And shortly after the DC Circuit decided Eisentrager, a separate panel of that intermediate appellate court turned away a habeas petition seeking to challenge one of the judgments of the Nuremberg Military Tribunal, holding that the NMT was, in effect, an international court, and so Hirota (which had not been clear on the issue) foreclosed all federal jurisdiction.78

In Eisentrager, though, there was no question that the commission that convicted the defendants acted exclusively under the auspices of US authority. Thus, the only claim the petitioners could have brought on the merits in their habeas petition was that the commission itself lacked jurisdiction to try them. If the commission properly exercised jurisdiction, that would necessarily have been the end of the matter.

(p.206) (III) Johnson v Eisentrager

Of course, the lower federal courts never reached the Eisentrager petitioners’ claim that the military commission that tried them lacked the jurisdiction to do so. As noted above, the district court dismissed the petitions on the ground that the Supreme Court’s 1948 decision in Ahrens v Clark divested the federal courts of statutory jurisdiction over extraterritorial habeas petitions,79 and the DC Circuit reversed, holding that the Constitution required access to the writ of habeas corpus for anyone in US custody.80 Not surprisingly, then, the briefing before the Supreme Court focused on the lower courts’ jurisdictional analysis—especially the DC Circuit’s articulation of a global constitutional right to the habeas remedy. Indeed, one is hard-pressed to find in the hundreds of pages of briefing before the Supreme Court a solitary mention of the merits of the petitioners’ claims anywhere other than the discussion of the factual background.

Thus, when the Court heard oral argument on 17 April 1950, the Justices’ focus was necessarily on the decision below, and the question whether enemy aliens convicted by a US military commission were constitutionally entitled to access to the federal courts via habeas corpus. When the opinion came down six weeks later, on 5 June, six of the nine Justices answered that question in the negative, albeit somewhat obtusely.81

(1) The Supreme Court’s decision

As I have explained elsewhere,82 Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion for the majority had four major analytical parts. In Part I, Jackson retraced the various legal and historical precedents with regard to the legal rights of citizens versus non-citizens, and, in particular, ‘friendly’ versus ‘enemy’ aliens.83 As Jackson explained, constitutional protections for non-citizens flowed from their physical presence within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States, as opposed to any more basic principles of protection owed to them by the US government. During time of war, in particular, Jackson invoked the Alien Enemy Act of 179884 to underscore the dramatic distinction between the rights of non-citizens who owe allegiance to allies of the United States and those who owe allegiance to its enemies.85 Thus, Jackson concluded, no historical precedent supported the conclusion reached by the DC Circuit below—ie that the Constitution confers rights even upon enemy aliens convicted by a US military commission overseas.86

Having laid the historical foundation in Part I, Jackson turned in Part II to the practical difficulties that the DC Circuit’s opinion might provoke, especially given the number of enemy aliens then in US custody overseas.87 As he explained:

(p.207) To grant the writ to these prisoners might mean that our army must transport them across the seas for hearing. This would require allocation of shipping space, guarding personnel, billeting and rations. It might also require transportation for whatever witnesses the prisoners desired to call as well as transportation for those necessary to defend legality of the sentence. The writ, since it is held to be a matter of right, would be equally available to enemies during active hostilities as in the present twilight between war and peace. Such trials would hamper the war effort and bring aid and comfort to the enemy. They would diminish the prestige of our commanders, not only with enemies but with wavering neutrals. It would be difficult to devise more effective fettering of a field commander than to allow the very enemies he is ordered to reduce to submission to call him to account in his own civil courts and divert his efforts and attention from the military offensive abroad to the legal defensive at home. Nor is it unlikely that the result of such enemy litigiousness would be a conflict between judicial and military opinion highly comforting to enemies of the United States.88

To conclude to the contrary, Jackson continued, would be to recognize a constitutional right to habeas relief despite six distinct facts: that each of the petitioners:

(a) is an enemy alien; (b) has never been or resided in the United States; (c) was captured outside of our territory and there held in military custody as a prisoner of war; (d) was tried and convicted by a Military Commission sitting outside the United States; (e) for offences against laws of war committed outside the United States; (f) and is at all times imprisoned outside the United States.’89

Explaining why such a result did not follow from the Court’s earlier decisions in Ex parte Quirin,90 In re Yamashita,91 and Hirota v MacArthur,92 Jackson concluded Part II with a tellingly ambiguous sentence: ‘After hearing all contentions they have seen fit to advance and considering every contention we can base on their application and the holdings below, we arrive at the same conclusion the Court reached in each of these cases, viz. that no right to the writ of habeas corpus appears’.93

But the reason why ‘no right to the writ of habeas corpus’ appeared in Quirin and Yamashita was not because it was jurisdictionally unavailable; to the contrary, the Court in both cases was at pains to emphasise that it could decide at least whether the military commissions in each case had jurisdiction to try the defendants.94 Instead, Quirin and Yamashita were merits decisions; no right to the writ of habeas corpus appeared in those cases because the Court ultimately concluded that both of the underlying military commissions validly exercised jurisdiction over the defendants.95 Jackson thereby obfuscated whether a ‘right to the writ of habeas corpus’ was a right to judicial review in the first place (which the Quirin and Yamashita petitioners clearly had), or a right to release following meritorious judicial review.

To be sure, this ambiguous phrase might not be so blurry to modern eyes had that been the denouement of Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Eisentrager Court. As I have written elsewhere, ‘[b]‌ased on the analysis in Parts I and II alone, Jackson’s opinion could reasonably have been understood, at bottom, to deny to all enemy (p.208) aliens outside the territorial United States a constitutional right to habeas corpus. But Jackson did not stop there’.96 Instead, Parts III and IV of the Eisentrager majority opinion turned to the merits of the petitioners’ claims—and the question of whether the commission that tried them properly exercised jurisdiction.97 Thus, Part III focused on the petitioners’ claim that they were not generally subject to military jurisdiction, concluding that ‘the Constitution does not confer a right of personal security or an immunity from military trial and punishment upon an alien enemy engaged in the hostile service of a government at war with the United States’.98 And Part IV focused on the specific challenges to the jurisdiction of the commission that convicted the petitioners.99

To that end, Justice Jackson briefly rehashed (and implicitly rejected) the detainees’ argument that their underlying conduct was not a war crime,100 before turning to the jurisdiction of the commission. On that issue, Jackson rejected the contention that the United States lacked the power to convene a military commission in China, holding that the President necessarily had the power to station troops there, and that, even if China objected, ‘China’s grievance does not become these prisoners’ right’.101

Jackson then dismissed the argument that anything in the 1929 Geneva Convention precluded the assertion of military jurisdiction, noting in a footnote that ‘[r]‌ights of alien enemies are vindicated under it only through protests and intervention of protecting powers as the rights of our citizens against foreign governments are vindicated only by Presidential intervention’.102 Finally, Jackson quickly sidestepped the two potential procedural irregularities that might have undermined the tribunal’s jurisdiction. The first defect (concerning the Geneva Convention’s requirement of pre-trial notice to the protecting power) had already been resolved against the detainees, he explained, by Quirin and Yamashita.103 As to the second irregularity—that the commission followed procedures that differed too significantly from those of court-martial proceedings—Jackson observed that ‘no prejudicial disparity is pointed out as between the Commission that tried prisoners and those that would try an offending soldier of the American forces of like rank’.104 In other words, Jackson dismissed the contention as form without substance. Thus, he concluded, ‘[w]e are unable to find that the petition alleges any fact showing lack of jurisdiction in the military authorities to accuse, try and condemn these prisoners or that they acted in excess of their lawful powers’.105

As with the key sentence at the end of Part II of his opinion, this sentence, too, is revealing. If the rule for which Eisentrager meant to stand was one barring habeas to all non-citizens held outside the territorial United States, or even to all enemy aliens so detained, the jurisdiction of the commission that convicted the Eisentrager petitioners would have been utterly irrelevant. Indeed, if the federal (p.209) courts categorically lacked jurisdiction simply by virtue of the fact that the detainees were non-citizens held outside the United States, it would have been lawless for Jackson to even reach the merits of the petitioners’ jurisdictional challenge to their military commission, let alone reject them.106

At the same time, as Justice Black pointed out in his opinion for the three dissenters,107 there was something apparently inconsistent when taking together the different pieces of Justice Jackson’s analysis:

[T]‌he Court apparently bases its holding that the District Court was without jurisdiction on its own conclusion that the petition for habeas corpus failed to show facts authorising the relief prayed for. But jurisdiction of a federal district court does not depend on whether the initial pleading sufficiently states a cause of action; if a court has jurisdiction of subject matter and parties, it should proceed to try the case, beginning with consideration of the pleadings. Therefore Part IV of the opinion is wholly irrelevant and lends no support whatever to the Court’s holding that the District Court was without jurisdiction.108

In fairness to Justice Jackson, there is a coherent way to explain his analysis: The district court held that it lacked statutory jurisdiction; the DC Circuit held that such a conclusion raised constitutional difficulties. Thus, one could understand Justice Jackson’s majority opinion to hold that, (1) because the detainees’ claim on the merits was ultimately unsuccessful, (2) the DC Circuit erred in concluding that the absence of statutory jurisdiction to hear their case raised constitutional concerns. Indeed, in a noteworthy decision less than two years earlier, the Second Circuit had employed just that kind of analysis in upholding an Act of Congress that took away federal jurisdiction. Because the constitutional claim the Act barred the federal courts from entertaining was itself without merit, the Act taking away the courts’ power to say so did not raise constitutional concerns.109 Perhaps that is what Justice Jackson had in mind in Eisentrager—because the detainees would not win on the merits anyway (as Parts III and IV established), there was no reason for the DC Circuit to controvert the historical norms identified in Parts I and II against enemy alien access to the courts, and no constitutional problem arising out of the absence of statutory jurisdiction.

(2) Eisentrager’s (properly reassessed) implications

We will never know what Justice Jackson meant for sure.110 If nothing else, though, a careful reading of his opinion belies each of the categorical rules for which it is routinely cited. Clearly, Eisentrager did not mean categorically to foreclose access to habeas corpus for all non-citizens detained outside the territorial United States. (p.210) Just as clearly, it did not mean categorically to foreclose Fifth Amendment due process rights for all non-citizens detained outside the territorial United States. Instead, Eisentrager may stand for as little as the proposition that enemy aliens convicted overseas by a US military commission that properly exercised jurisdiction have no basis for collaterally attacking that conviction via habeas corpus. And even that rule may not survive the Court’s subsequent expansion of collateral review of military courts in Burns v Wilson,111 under which defendants may raise via habeas arguments that the military courts failed to give full and fair consideration to their constitutional claims.112

For non-citizens outside the territorial United States (who, regardless of Eisentrager, may have little in the way of freestanding constitutional protections), that may prove no better as a standard of review. Nevertheless, the underlying point remains: Eisentrager only makes sense as a holding if one gives value to Justice Jackson’s analysis of the military commission’s (proper) exercise of jurisdiction. Other decisions may stand for more categorical rules regarding the extraterritorial constitutional rights of non-citizens, but it is a misreading of Eisentrager itself to group it in that category—a misreading that is only exacerbated by the failure fully to appreciate the military commission proceedings that gave rise to the federal court litigation.

(IV) Conclusion

For many—if not most—of the war crimes trials surveyed in this volume, the lack of historical attention to the prosecution has obscured relevant lessons in legal history, politics, substantive international criminal law, or some combination of all three. In retrospect, it is hard to say the same about the military commission proceedings in United States v Eisentrager. Although the facts of Eisentrager were unique, the decision ultimately created little in the way of new substantive law going forward; it merely confirmed that certain already established principles also applied to the particular defendants in that case.

Instead, the hidden history of the Eisentrager proceeding matters for an altogether different reason. Understanding that the crux of the issue before the commission was its jurisdiction, and not any more specific question arising out of the charges, helps to illuminate Justice Jackson’s opinion for the Supreme Court in Johnson v Eisentrager, and in particular the significance of his discussion in Parts III and IV of the appropriateness of military jurisdiction in that case. And whereas that revelation in and of itself serves to clarify the historical record and thereby undermines broad readings of Eisentrager (along with criticisms of the Supreme Court’s Boumediene decision for its lack of fealty thereto), it may go even further.

Although the Supreme Court has never been forced to reach the issue, there is a non-frivolous argument that collateral challenges to the jurisdiction of military (p.211) courts are protected by the Constitution’s Suspension Clause, given that a conviction by a military tribunal acting without jurisdiction is, in effect, another form of executive detention. Nevertheless, Congress in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 sought to bar such claims, enacting 10 USC § 950j(b):

[N]‌otwithstanding any other provision of law (including section 2241 of title 28 or any other habeas corpus provision), no court, justice, or judge shall have jurisdiction to hear or consider any claim or cause of action whatsoever…relating to the prosecution, trial, or judgment of a military commission under this chapter, including challenges to the lawfulness of procedures of military commissions under this chapter.

This provision was repealed sub silentio by the Military Commissions Act of 2009, and so its constitutionality was never judicially tested. But had the issue been litigated, or if Congress enacts a similar jurisdiction-stripping provision in the future, Eisentrager would undoubtedly figure prominently in the legal analysis. And whereas the government might invoke the Supreme Court’s 1950 decision as standing for the proposition that ‘no right to the writ of habeas corpus appears’, the reality is far more complicated—and should ultimately depend on whether the collateral challenge to the assertion of military jurisdiction has any merit. (p.212)


(1) Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950).

(2) The defendants were Lothar Eisentrager (also known as Ludwig Ehrhardt), Franz Siebert, Herbert Gleitsch, Johannes Otto, Erich Heise, Oswald Ulbricht, Hanz Niemann, Ingward Rudloff, Bodo Habenicht, Hans Dethleffs, Wolf Schenke, Heinz Peerschke, Hans Mesberg, Johannes Rathje, Siegfried Fuellkrug, Walther Heissig, Jesco von Puttkamer, Alfred Romain, Ernst Woermann, Wilhelm Stoller, Elgar von Randow, Walter Richter, Hermann Jaeger, Felix Altenburg, Herbert Mueller, August Stock, and Maria Muller.

(3) The facts in this chapter are derived from three primary sources: (1) the Supreme Court’s opinion in Eisentrager, see 339 US 765–8; (2) the Transcript of Record therein, see Transcript of Record, Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950) (No. 306); and (3) the report on the Eisentrager commission proceedings in Volume 14 of the United Nations War Crimes Commission’s multivolume set on the Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals, see XIV UN War Crimes Commission, Law Reports of Trials of War Criminals 8–22 (1949) (LRTWC). To avoid redundancy, I cite to specific sources only when quoting from them directly.

(4) Glietsch, Otto, Randow, Schenke, Steller, and Woermann, were acquitted, leaving twenty-one defendants who ultimately petitioned for writs of habeas corpus in the US courts.

(5) See Eisentrager, 339 US 763.

(6) 494 US 259 (1990).

(7) Verdugo-Urquidez, above n 6, 269 (‘[T]‌he Court held that enemy aliens arrested in China and imprisoned in Germany after World War II could not obtain writs of habeas corpus in our federal courts on the ground that their convictions for war crimes had violated the Fifth Amendment and other constitutional provisions.’).

(8) See, eg, United States v Ali, 71 MJ 256, 267–268 (CAAF, 2012); Rasul v Myers, 563 F 3d 527, 529 (DC Cir, 2009) (per curiam); J. Andrew Kent, ‘A Textual and Historical Case Against a Global Constitution’, Georgetown Law Journal, 95 (2007), 474.

(9) See, eg, Ibrahim v Dep’t of Homeland Sec., 669 F 3d 983, 995 (9th Cir, 2012).

(10) 553 US 723, 771 (2008).

(11) See, eg, ibid, 834–42 (Scalia, J., dissenting).

(12) Hamdan v Rumsfeld, 548 US 557 (2006).

(13) Transcript of Oral Argument 72, Hamdan, 548 US 557 (No. 05-184) (statement of Solicitor General Paul Clement), <http://www.supremecourtus.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/ 05-184.pdf> (link directs to Supreme Court website, accessed 28 February 2013).

(14) See, eg, Stephen I. Vladeck, ‘The Problem of Jurisdictional Non-Precedent’, Tulsa Law Review, 44 (2009), 595–600.

(15) See, eg, Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763, 785–90 (1950).

(16) Indeed, contemporary commentators routinely ignore the fact that the habeas petitioners before the Supreme Court had already been convicted by a military commission, which dramatically changes the circumstances of their case from those of individuals held without charges. See, eg, Rasul v Bush, 542 US 466, 475–7 (2004) (articulating some of the key differences between Eisentrager and the Guantánamo habeas litigation).

(17) See, eg, Brief in Opposition to Petition for Writ of Certiorari 1-4, Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (No. 306).

(18) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 15.

(19) See Eisentrager v Forrestal, 174 F 2d 961 (DC Cir, 1949).

(20) See, eg, Hiatt v Brown, 339 US 103, 111 (1950) (‘It is well settled that by habeas corpus the civil courts exercise no supervisory or correcting power over the proceedings of a court-martial…The single inquiry, the test, is jurisdiction.’ (omission in original; internal quotation marks omitted)).

(21) 327 US 1, 8 (1946) (citations omitted). This model of review stands in contrast to the model that Congress pursued in the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009, which provide for direct appellate review of military commissions in an intermediate military court (the ‘Court of Military Commission Review’), followed by the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and, potentially, the US Supreme Court. See 10 USC §§ 950f, 950g.

(22) 346 US 137 (1953) (plurality opinion).

(23) The issue has never formally arisen, but the Supreme Court has consistently treated the scope of collateral review of military commissions as following the same for courts-martial. See, eg, Yamashita, 327 US 8.

(24) Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763, 781–90 (1950).

(25) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 11.

(26) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 11.

(27) Transcript of Record 25–6, Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950) (No. 306).

(28) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 15.

(29) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 19–20.

(30) See XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 18–20; see also Trial of Oberleutenant Gerhard Grumpelt (The Scuttled U-Boats Case) (Brit. Mil. Ct. 1946), I LRTWC, above n 3, 55, 56.

(31) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 21.

(32) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 21.

(33) XIV LRTWC, above n 3, 21–2.

(34) See Transcript of Record 42–3, Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950) (No. 306).

(35) See In re Yamashita, 327 US 1 (1946); see also A. Frank Reel, The Case of General Yamashita (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949).

(36) For discussions of this litigation, see Charles Fairman, ‘Some New Problems of the Constitution Following the Flag’, Stanford Law Review, 1 (1949), 587; and Stephen I. Vladeck, ‘Deconstructing Hirota: Habeas Corpus, Citizenship, and Article III’, Georgetown Law Journal, 95 (2007), 1497.

(37) See Milch v United States, 332 US 789 (1947) (memorandum).

(38) The US Constitution limits the Supreme Court’s ‘original’ jurisdiction to a small class of cases, which generally do not include habeas petitions brought by US detainees. Technically, those limits are not implicated when the Supreme Court is at least functionally asked to review the decision of a ‘lower’ court, but it hardly followed that the tribunals at issue in these cases were examples of such. See generally Vladeck, above n 36.

(39) 335 US 188 (1948).

(40) 335 US 188 (1948), 192, n 4.

(41) Fairman, above n 36, 632.

(42) Eisentrager v Forrestal, unpublished opinion (DDC, Oct 6 1948), reprinted in Transcript of Record 16–17, Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950) (No. 306).

(43) Eisentrager v Forrestal, 174 F 2d 961, 967 (DC Cir, 1949) (footnotes omitted).

(44) In 1942, the Supreme Court for the first time formally recognized the right of state prisoners to use federal habeas petitions to challenge the legality of their state court convictions on grounds that did not necessarily go to the state court’s ‘jurisdiction’. See Waley v Johnston, 316 US 101, 104–5 (1942) (per curiam). See generally Stephen I. Vladeck, ‘The New Habeas Revisionism’, Harvard Law Review, 124 (2011), 984–5 (summarizng the significance of this development). Waley opened the door, but did not settle, whether non-jurisdictional challenges could also be litigated in habeas petitions challenging military convictions, as well. See Burns v Wilson, 346 US 844 (1953) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing).

(45) See Johnson v Eisentrager, 338 US 877 (1949) (memorandum) (granting certiorari).

(46) See 28 USC § 2241(c).

(47) See 28 USC § 2255.

(48) See Randy Hertz and James S. Liebman, Federal Habeas Corpus Practice and Procedure (Dayton, OH: LexisNexis, 5th edn, 2005), § 2.4d, 42–82.

(49) Woolsey v Best, 299 US 1, 2 (1936) (per curiam).

(50) 237 US 309 (1915).

(51) 261 US 86 (1923).

(52) 304 US 458 (1938).

(53) 304 US, 465–7.

(54) 304 US, 467.

(55) Henry J. Friendly, ‘Is Innocence Irrelevant? Collateral Attack on Criminal Judgments’, University of Chicago Law Review, 38 (1970), 151.

(56) 316 US 101 (1942) (per curiam).

(57) 316 US, 104–5.

(58) See, eg, Brown v Allen, 344 US 443 (1953).

(59) See, eg, Fay v Noia, 372 US 391 (1963).

(60) Burns v Wilson, 346 US 844, 846 (1953) (Frankfurter, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing).

(61) Carter v Roberts, 177 US 496, 498 (1900).

(62) See, eg, Ex parte Vallandigham, 68 US (1 Wall.) 243 (1864). See generally Burns, 346 US 844–7 (Frankfurter, J., dissenting from the denial of rehearing) (questioning why military courts should receive less review than their civilian counterparts).

(63) In re Grimley, 137 US 147, 150 (1890).

(64) See Shapiro v United States, 69 F Supp 205, 207–8 (Ct Cl, 1947).

(65) 339 US 103 (1950).

(66) 339 US, 110.

(67) 339 US, 111.

(68) Burns v Wilson, 346 US 137 (1953).

(69) 317 US 1 (1942).

(70) 327 US 1 (1946).

(71) See, eg,Yamashita, 327 US 8; Quirin, 317 US 25.

(72) 68 US (1 Wall.) 243 (1864).

(73) 71 US (4 Wall.) 2 (1866).

(74) See 68 US (1 Wall.) 250–3.

(75) See 71 US (4 Wall.) 127–31; see also Ex parte Yerger, 75 US (8 Wall.) 85, 102–3 (1869).

(76) See 338 US 197 (1948) (per curiam).

(77) See generally Vladeck, above n 36, 1518 and n 107.

(78) See Flick v Johnson, 174 F 2d 983 (DC Cir, 1949). The Supreme Court declined to review Flick on the same day it agreed to review Eisentrager. See Flick v Johnson, 338 US 879 (1949) (memorandum).

(79) See above text accompanying notes 39–42.

(80) See above text accompanying n 43.

(81) See Johnson v Eisentrager, 339 US 763 (1950).

(82) See Vladeck, above n 14, 595–600.

(83) See Eisentrager, 339 US 768–77.

(84) 50 USC §§ 21–4.

(85) Eisentrager, 339 US 773.

(86) Eisentrager, 339 US, 777.

(87) Eisentrager, 339 US, 777–80.

(88) Eisentrager, 339 US, 778–9.

(89) Eisentrager, 777.

(90) 317 US 1 (1942).

(91) 327 US 1 (1946).

(92) 338 US 197 (1948) (per curiam).

(93) Eisentrager, 339 US 781.

(94) See above n 21 and accompanying text.

(95) See Yamashita, 327 US 1; Quirin, 317 US 1.

(96) Vladeck, above n 14, 597–8.

(97) See Eisentrager, 339 US 781–90.

(98) See Eisentrager, 339 US, 785.

(99) See Eisentrager, 339 US, 785–90.

(100) See Eisentrager, 339 US, 785–6.

(101) Eisentrager, 339 US, 789.

(102) Eisentrager, 339 US, 789 n 14.

(103) Eisentrager, 339 US, 790.

(104) Eisentrager, 339 US.

(105) Eisentrager, 339 US.

(106) As the Supreme Court had already explained in Ex parte McCardle, ‘[w]‌ithout jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause’. 74 US (7 Wall.) 506, 514 (1868).

(107) Eisentrager, 339 US 791–8 (Black J).

(108) Eisentrager, 339 US, 792 (citations omitted).

(109) See Battaglia v General Motors Corp, 169 F 2d 254 (2d Cir, 1948).

(110) Even his notes and draft opinions provide little evidence of his intentions. See Vladeck, above n 14, 596 n 56.

(111) 346 US 137 (1953).

(112) See above text accompanying n 68.