Status of Forces Agreements.

Status of Forces Agreements, negotiated pursuant to authorizations contained in treaties between the United States and foreign nations in the territory of which American troops and their dependents are stationed, afford the United States a qualified privilege, which may be waived, of trying by court martial soldiers and their dependents charged with commission of offenses normally within the exclusive criminal jurisdiction of the foreign signatory power. When the United States, in conformity with the waiver clause in such an Agreement, consented to the trial in a Japanese court of a soldier charged with causing the death of a Japanese woman on a firing range in that country, the Court could “find no constitutional barrier” to such action.465 However, at least five of the Supreme Court Justices were persuaded to reject at length the contention that such Agreements could sustain, as necessary and proper for their effectuation, implementing legislation subsequently found by the Court to contravene constitutional guaranties set forth in the Bill of Rights.466

Footnotes

465
Wilson v. Girard, 354 U.S. 524 (1957). [Back to text]
466
Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1, 16–17 (1957) (plurality opinion); id. at 66 (Justice Harlan concurring). [Back to text]