Goldwater v. Carter Case Brief

Summary of Goldwater v. Carter
S. Ct. 1979

Facts: President Carter terminated a defense treaty with Taiwan. Neither the Senate nor the House have taken action to prevent or contest the action. Several members brought this claim alleging the President has deprived them of their Constitutional role.

Issue: Whether the President, in terminating at treaty with another country, needs the approval of Congress, and if so does it involve a political question?

Holding: The issue involves a political question.

Procedure: Ct. of App. judgment is vacated and the case remanded to D. Ct. for dismissal.

Rule: The President is authorized to make treaties with the advise and consent of the Senate. Treaties shall be a part of the supreme law of the land.

Judicial action is barred where there is an unusual need for unquestioning adherence to a political decision already made. Issues affecting allocation of power are unreviewable. Constitutional text which grants exclusive responsibility to a particular governmental function to one of the branches, and thereby eliminating the court’s interference in the business of those other branches.

Ct. Rationale: If Congress had challenged the President’s authority to terminate, then the court would have justiciable issue to decide. Without a challenge the issue only involves a political question.

Neither the Senate nor the House have taken any action, thereby rendering the case unripe for decision. There is no specific language preventing the President from terminating treaties without approval. There is no showing that Congress has rejected the President’s claim. It is Congress’ choice to challenge the President not the Court’s.

Where the Constitution is silent this case is controlled by political standards. Congress has terminated treaties without Presidential approval.

PL A: The Constitution makes specific mention that the President needs the approval and consent of the Senate to make a treaty, therefor the contra positive is true: President cannot terminate a treaty without approval and consent of the Senate. If so, a constitutional case and controversy are ripened for decision. Whether the decision making authority is Constitutionally valid is a determination left to the courts.

Def A: The issue is a political question where the PL is asking the court to issue an advisory opinion on whether the President can or cannot terminate a treaty.

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