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Law School Case Brief

Goldwater v. Carter - 444 U.S. 996, 100 S. Ct. 533 (1979)

Rule:

A dispute between Congress and the President is not ready for judicial review unless and until each branch has taken action asserting its constitutional authority. Differences between the President and the Congress are commonplace under our system. The differences should, and almost invariably do, turn on political rather than legal considerations. The Judicial Branch should not decide issues affecting the allocation of power between the President and Congress until the political branches reach a constitutional impasse. Otherwise, we would encourage small groups or even individual Members of Congress to seek judicial resolution of issues before the normal political process has the opportunity to resolve the conflict.

Facts:

A few members of Congress claimed that the President's action in terminating the treaty with Taiwan deprived them of their constitutional role with respect to a change in the supreme law of the land. Although the Senate has considered a resolution declaring that Senate approval was necessary for the termination of any mutual defense treaty, no final vote had been taken on the resolution. 

Issue:

Is the issue a political issue?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court of the United States vacated the judgment and remanded the case with directions to dismiss the complaint. It noted that the issue was not ripe for judicial review. The Judicial Branch should not decide issues affecting the allocation of power between the President and Congress until the political branches reached a constitutional impasse. Otherwise, the Court would encourage small groups or even individual members of Congress to seek judicial resolution of issues before the normal political process had the opportunity to resolve the conflict.

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