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Goldwater v. Carter - 199 U.S. App. D.C. 115, 617 F.2d 697 (1979)


To be cognizable for standing purposes, the alleged diminution in congressional influence must amount to a disenfranchisement, a complete nullification or withdrawal of a voting opportunity; and the plaintiff must point to an objective standard in the Constitution, statutes or congressional house rules, by which disenfranchisement can be shown.


In the aftermath of the Chinese Revolution and the Korean War, the United States and the Republic of China (“ROC”) negotiated a Mutual Defense Treaty, primarily directed against the perceived threat from the People's Republic of China (“PRC”). On December 15, 1978, President Carter announced that the United States would recognize the PRC as the sole government of China, effective January 1, 1979, and would simultaneously withdraw recognition from the ROC. In addition, the United States announced that the ROC would be notified that "the Mutual Defense Treaty is being terminated in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty." On December 23, 1978, the State Department formally notified the ROC that the Treaty would terminate on January 1, 1980. Senators then sought declaratory and injunctive relief in the District of Columbia, to prevent termination of the Mutual Defense Treaty without senatorial or congressional consent. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the senators. President Carter sought review from the judgment.


Did the President exceed his authority when he terminated the Mutual Defense Treaty without senatorial or congressional consent?




Reversing, the Court of Appeals found that the President was empowered to terminate the Treaty and that the limitations, which the District Court purported to place on his action in this regard, had no foundation in the Constitution. The Court of Appeals agreed with the District cCurt that the diversity of historical precedents left an inconclusive basis on which to decide the issue of whether the President's power to terminate a treaty had to always be shared in some way by the Senate or Congress. However, the Court of Appeals concluded that two-thirds Senate consent or majority consent in both houses was not necessary to terminate the Treaty. The Court of Appeals concluded that the President did not exceed his authority when he took action to withdraw from the Treaty without the consent of the Senate or other legislative concurrences.

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