Creation of the Military Justice System

Overview of the creation of the military justice system:

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Creation of the Military Justice System

In order to provide for the common defense, the Constitution gives Congress the power to raise, support and regulate the Armed Forces. U.S. Const., Preamble, art. I, § 8, cls. 11-14 (War Power). Under this authority, Congress has enacted the UCMJ in 1950. 10 U.S.C. §§ 801-941. The UCMJ is the code of military criminal laws applicable to all U.S. military members worldwide.

Implementation

The Constitution makes the President the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. U.S. Const., art. II, § 2, cl. 1. Under this authority, the President implemented the UCMJ through the MCM. Executive Order 12473 (April 13, 1984). The MCM contains the UCMJ, the RCMs, and the MREs. The rules of procedures and rules of evidence for courts-martial are established by the President and authorized by Article 36 of the UCMJ. 10 U.S.C. § 836. The MCM covers almost all aspects of military law. Each service, however, supplements the MCM to meet its individual needs. The Army has Army Regulation 27-10; the Navy and Marine Corps have the Manual for the Judge Advocate General; and the Air Force has Air Force Instructions.

  • Rules for Courts-Martial. The rules that govern the procedures and punishments in all courts-martial. These rules are the equivalent of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
  • Military Rules of Evidence. The rules that are applicable in courts-martial. The rules are intended to ensure fairness in administration of military justice, elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay, and promotion of growth and development of the law of evidence. M.R.E. 102.
  • Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Congressional Code of Military Criminal Law applicable to all servicemembers. It serves as the foundation of military law.