The rights of prisoners of war depends on which country holds them. In this lesson, we will learn how the Supreme Court’s decision in ”Johnson v. Eisentrager”. [Source: U.S. Supreme Court JOHNSON v. EISENTRAGER, U.S. (); June 5, ; available on ]. Johnson, Secretary of Defense et al; Eisentrager alias Ehrhardt et al. Categories, War crimes. Keywords, detention, international armed conflict, jurisdiction, war.

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The prisoners rely, however, upon two decisions of this Court to get them over the threshold — Ex parte Quirin, U.

The Selective Service Act of62 Stat. Wikisource has original text related to this article: It therefore takes measures to disable him from commission of hostile acts imputed as his intention because they are a duty to his sovereign. If they had been prisoners of war, could they have been sentenced for what they did?

The security and protection enjoyed while the nation of his allegiance remains in amity with the United States are greatly impaired when his nation takes up arms against us. But the Court’s opinion inescapably denies courts power to afford the least bit of protection for any alien who is subject to our occupation government abroad, even if he is neither enemy nor belligerent, and even after peace is officially declared.

Respondents, who are nonresident enemy aliens, were captured in China by the United States Army and tried and convicted in China by an American military commission for violations of the laws of war committed in China prior to their capture.

See cases collected in Annotations, A. The right of judicial refuge from military action, which it is proposed to bestow on the enemy, can purchase no equivalent for benefit of our citizen soldiers.

Johnson v. Eisentrager

Bush on the same grounds. A basic and inherent function of the judicial branch of a government built upon a constitution is to set aside void action by government officials, and so to restrict executive action to the confines of the constitution.

It is claimed that their trial, conviction, and imprisonment violate Articles I and III of the Constitution, and the Fifth Amendment thereto, and other provisions of the Eisentraher and laws of the United States and provisions of the Geneva Convention governing treatment of prisoners of war.


Jefferson into power inand though his party proceeded to undo what was regarded as the mischievous legislation of the Federalists.

Not only is United States citizenship a “high privilege,” it is a priceless treasure. The Court of Appeals assumed, and we do likewise, that, while prisoners are.

Johnson v. Eisentrager

Index of page Summary Procedural history Legally relevant facts Core legal questions Specific legal rules and provisions Court’s holding and analysis Further analysis Instruments cited Related cases Social media links. Twenty-one German nationals petitioned the District Court of the District of Columbia for writs of habeas corpus. But even by the most magnanimous view, our law does not abolish inherent distinctions recognized throughout the civilized world between citizens and aliens, nor between aliens of friendly and of enemy allegiance, [ Footnote 2 ] nor between resident enemy aliens who have submitted themselves to our laws and nonresident enemy aliens who at all times have remained with, and adhered to, enemy governments.

Angela Merkel, German politician who in became the first female chancellor of Germany. While the Court wisely disclaims any such necessary effect for its holding, rejection of the Government’s argument is certainly made difficult by the logic of today’s Page U. Supreme Court Johnson v. The writ Page U.

Johnson v. Eisentrager | law case |

The ultimate question in this case is one of jurisdiction of civil courts of the United States vis-a -vis military authorities in dealing with enemy aliens overseas. A nonresident enemy alien has no access to our courts in wartime.

If the Fifth Amendment confers it rights on all the world except Americans engaged in defending it, the same must be true of the companion civil rights Amendments, for none of them is limited by its express terms, territorially or as to persons. One is that the United States was obliged to give the protecting power of Germany. The contention that enemy alien belligerents have no standing whatever to contest conviction for war crimes by habeas corpus proceedings has twice been emphatically rejected by a unanimous Court.

Our Constitution has led people everywhere to hope and believe that, wherever our laws control, all people, whether our citizens or not, would have an equal chance before the bar of criminal justice.


There is no fiction about their emnity. These prisoners were convicted by our own military tribunals under our own Articles of War, years after hostilities had ceased. Principles of International Law 5th ed. Did the Military Commission lack jurisdiction to try and convict the Respondents or did it act in any other way in excess of its lawful powers for the purposes of establishing a violation of the rights of the Respondents?

Johnson et al. v. Eisentrager et al.

We control that part of Germany we occupy. One was, or Page U. I agree with the Court of Appeals, and need add little to the Page U.

But jurisdiction of a federal district court does not depend on whether the initial pleading sufficiently states a cause of action; if a eisrntrager has jurisdiction of subject matter and parties, it should proceed to try the case, beginning with consideration of the pleadings. Contact our editors with your feedback. It concluded that any person, including an enemy alien, deprived sv his liberty anywhere ojhnson any purported authority of the United States is entitled to the writ if he can show that extension to his cases of any constitutional rights or limitations jhnson show his imprisonment illegal; that, although no statutory jurisdiction of such cases is given, courts must be held to possess it as part of the judicial power of the United States; that, where deprivation of liberty by an official act occurs outside the territorial jurisdiction of any District Court, the petition will lie in the District Court which has territorial jurisdiction over officials who have directive power over the immediate jailer.

I am not convinced that this unargued question is correctly decided. Ex parte Quirin, supra; Ex parte Eisentrgaer, supra. This ideal gave birth to the constitutional provision for an independent judiciary with authority to check abuses of executive power and to issue writs of habeas corpus liberating persons illegally imprisoned.

Eisentrager [ See also Case No.