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Military refers generally to the armed forces of any state, government, or sovereign entity. The Constitution grants to Congress the power to raise and support armies and a navy, to suppress insurrections, and repel invasion among other military-related governmental roles. Thus, the main source of legal authority in this area is federal law. Congress's control over formation, organization and government of the national armies is plenary and exclusive.

Military law consists of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and other statutory provisions for the government of persons in the Armed Forces to which may be added the unwritten common law of the usage and custom of military service as well as regulations and authorized by the President as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (See 10 U.S.C. § 121). It is a part of our body of law as a whole, and is fully recognized by civil courts; it is in force in times of peace as well as in times of war. 

All persons serving in the Armed Forces of the United States are subject to military law at all times.

Federal Material:

Federal Judicial Decisions

  • U.S. Supreme Court:
    • Recent Military Law Decisions

State Material:

Additional Resources:

​Additional Resources

[Last updated in July of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]