Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



When a civilian "supreme court" for the review of court-martial convictions was first proposed in Congress, it evoked immediate, vociferous and emotional reactions from those most directly concerned with military criminal law. Vigorous opposition came from the traditional militarist, who argued that there was no place for civilians in a military procedure, and that creation of such a court would place unnecessary emphasis on civilian influence. It was said that military effectiveness would be unduly restricted and that the nonmilitary mind would not be able to appreciate fully the military problems often involved in court-martial cases. Some of these officers also predicted that such a court, organized along traditional appellate lines, would not be able to cope with the tremendous volume of cases that would come before it.

On the other side were the adherents of the Court proposal composed principally of civilian lawyers and veterans, speaking through their national organizations, who had, from experience, acquired a distaste for the court-martial system. Congressmen representing this viewpoint hailed the Court as the "most vital element" in the reformation and unification of military criminal law brought about by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. It was stated that the legislation creating the Court embodied the "most revolutionary changes which have ever been incorporated in our military law."