MORA v. MCNAMARA, 389 U.S. 934 (1967)

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U.S. Supreme Court

MORA v. MCNAMARA , 389 U.S. 934 (1967)

389 U.S. 934

Dennis MORA et al., petitioners,
Robert S. McNAMARA, Secretary of Defense, et al.
No. 401.

Supreme Court of the United States

November 6, 1967

Rehearing Denied Dec. 18, 1967.

See 389 U.S. 1025.

Stanley Faulkner and Selma W. Samols, for petitioners.

Solicitor General Marshall, for respondents.

Petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.


Mr. Justice STEWART, with whom Mr. Justice DOUGLAS joins, dissenting. The petitioners were drafted into the United States Army in late 1965, and six months later were ordered to a West Coast replacement station for shipment to Vietnam. They brought this suit to prevent the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army from carrying out those orders, and requested a declaratory judgment that the present United States military activity in Vietnam is 'illegal.' The District Court dismissed the suit, and the Court of Appeals affirmed.

There exist in this case questions of great magnitude. Some are akin to those referred to by Mr. Justice Douglas in Mitchell v. United States, 386 U.S. 972. But there are others: I. Is the present United States military activity in Vietnam a 'war' within the meaning of Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution? II. If so, may the Executive constitutionally order the petitioners to participate in that military activity, when no war has been declared by the Congress? III. Of what relevance to Question II are the present treaty obligations of the United States? IV. Of what relevance to Question II is the joint Congressional ( 'Tonkin Bay') Resolution of August 10, 1964?

Page 389 U.S. 934 , 935

(a) Do present United States military operations fall within the terms of the Joint Resolution?

(b) If the Joint Resolution purports to give the Chief Executive authority to commit United States forces to armed conflict limited in scope only by his own absolute discretion, is the Resolution a constitutionally impermissible delegation of all or part of Congress' power to declare war?

These are large and deeply troubling questions. Whether the Court would ultimately reach them depends, of course, upon the resolution of serious preliminary issues of justiciability. We cannot make these problems go away simply by refusing to hear the case of three obscure Army privates. I intimate not even tentative views upon any of these matters, but I think the Court should squarely face them by granting certiorari and setting this case for oral argument.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, with whom Mr. Justice STEWART concurs, dissenting.

Mr. Justice MARSHALL took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.

The questions posed by Mr. Justice Stewart cover the wide range of problems which the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recently explored, 1 in connection with the SEATO Treaty of February 19, 1955,2 and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. [Footnote 3]

Mr. Katzenbach, representing the Administration, testified that he did not regard the Tonkin Gulf Resolution to be 'a declaration of war'4 and that while the Resolution was not 'constitutionally necessary' it was 'polit- [389 U.S. 934 , 936]

Full Text of Opinion


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