Yamashita, In Re 327 U.S. 1 (1947)

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YAMASHITA, IN RE 327 U.S. 1 (1947)

A 6–2 Supreme Court here refused to consider the claim of an enemy officer, charged with war crimes before an American military tribunal in the Philippines, that he had been denied the due process of law guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. The Court held that it had jurisdiction only to consider whether the military tribunal had authority to try the accused.

When General Tomoyuki Yamashita surrendered in 1945, an American military commission tried him on charges that he permitted atrocities against both civilians and prisoners of war, in violation of the law of war. Yamashita's military counsel applied to the Supreme Court for leave to file petitions for writs of habeas corpus and prohibition, challenging the jurisdiction and legal authority of the commission. Chief Justice harlan fiske stone, for the majority, denied leave to file but wrote an opinion on the jurisdictional issues. He found that Congress had legally authorized the commission's establishment under the war powers, and that the charge was adequate to state a violation of the law of war. Stone also denied that the American Articles of War (which incorporated the law of war) forbade the admission of hearsay and opinion evidence.

Justices frank murphy and wiley rutledge, dissenting, argued eloquently for the extension of the due process clause.

David Gordon

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Yamashita, In Re 327 U.S. 1 (1947)

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