496 U.S. 334 (1990), 89-542, Perpich v. Department of Defense

Docket Nº:No. 89-542
Citation:496 U.S. 334, 110 S.Ct. 2418, 110 L.Ed.2d 312, 58 U.S.L.W. 4750
Party Name:Perpich v. Department of Defense
Case Date:June 11, 1990
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 334

496 U.S. 334 (1990)

110 S.Ct. 2418, 110 L.Ed.2d 312, 58 U.S.L.W. 4750

Perpich

v.

Department of Defense

No. 89-542

United States Supreme Court

June 11, 1990

Argued March 27, 542

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR

THE EIGHTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Since 1933, federal law has provided that persons enlisting in a state National Guard unit simultaneously enlist in the National Guard of the United States, a part of the Army. The enlistees retain their status as state Guard members unless and until ordered to active federal duty, and revert to state status upon being relieved from federal service. The authority to order the Guard to federal duty was limited to periods of national emergency until 1952, when Congress broadly authorized orders "to active duty or active duty for training" without any emergency requirement, but provided that such orders could not be issued without the consent of the governor of the State concerned. After two State Governors refused to consent to federal training missions abroad for their Guard units, the gubernatorial consent requirement was partially repealed in 1986 by the "Montgomery Amendment," which provides that a governor cannot withhold consent with regard to active duty outside the United States because of any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such duty. Petitioner, Governor of Minnesota, filed a complaint for injunctive relief, alleging, inter alia, that the Montgomery Amendment had prevented him from withholding his consent to a 1987 federal training mission in Central America [110 S.Ct. 2420] for certain members of the state Guard, and that the Amendment violates the Militia Clauses of Article I, § 8, of the Constitution, which authorize Congress to provide for (1) calling forth the militia to execute federal law, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, and (2) organizing, arming, disciplining, and governing such part of the militia as may be employed in the federal service, reserving to the States the appointment of officers and the power to train the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. The District Court rejected the Governor's challenge, holding that the federal Guard was created pursuant to Congress' Article I, § 8, power to raise and support armies; that the fact that Guard units also have an identity as part of the state militia does not limit Congress' plenary authority to train the units as it sees fit when the Guard is called to active federal service; and that, accordingly, the Constitution neither required the gubernatorial veto nor prohibited its withdrawal. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Page 335

Held: Article I's plain language, read as a whole, establishes that Congress may authorize members of the National Guard of the United States to be ordered to active federal duty for purposes of training outside the United States without either the consent of a state governor or the declaration of a national emergency. Pp. 347-355.

(a) The unchallenged validity of the dual enlistment system means that Guard members lose their state status when called to active federal duty, and, if that duty is a training mission, the training is performed by the Army. During such periods, the second Militia Clause is no longer applicable. Pp. 347-349.

(b) This view of the constitutional issue was presupposed by the Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U.S. 366, 375, 377, 381-384, which held that the Militia Clauses do not constrain Congress' Article I, § 8, powers to provide for the common defense, raise and support armies, make rules for the governance of the Armed Forces, and enact necessary and proper laws for such purposes, but in fact provide additional grants of power to Congress. Pp. 349-351.

(c) This interpretation merely recognizes the supremacy of federal power in the military affairs area, and does not significantly affect either the State's basic training responsibility or its ability to rely on its own Guard in state emergency situations. Pp. 351-352.

(d) In light of the exclusivity of federal power over many aspects of military affairs, see Tarble's Case, 13 Wall. 397, the powers allowed to the States by existing statutes are significant. Pp. 353-354.

(e) Thus, the Montgomery Amendment is not inconsistent with the Militia Clauses. Since the original gubernatorial veto was not constitutionally compelled, its partial repeal by the Amendment is constitutionally valid. Pp. 354-355.

880 F.2d 11 (CA 8 1989), affirmed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 336

STEVENS, J., lead opinion

Justice STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether the Congress may authorize the President to order members of the National Guard to active duty for purposes of training outside the United States during peacetime without either the consent of a state governor or the declaration of a national emergency.

A gubernatorial consent requirement that had been enacted in 19521 was partially repealed [110 S.Ct. 2421] in 1986 by the "Montgomery Amendment," which provides:

Page 337

The consent of a Governor described in subsections (b) and (d) may not be withheld (in whole or in part) with regard to active duty outside the United States, its territories, and its possessions, because of any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such active duty.2

In this litigation, the Governor of Minnesota challenges the constitutionality of that Amendment. He contends that it violates the Militia Clauses of the Constitution.3

Page 338

In his complaint, the Governor alleged that, pursuant to a state statute, the Minnesota National Guard is the organized militia of the State of Minnesota, and that, pursuant to a federal statute, members of that militia

are also members of either the Minnesota unit of the Air National Guard of the United States or the Minnesota unit of the Army National Guard of the United States (hereinafter collectively referred to as the "National Guard of the United States").

App. 5. The complaint further alleged that the Montgomery Amendment had prevented the Governor from withholding his consent to a training mission in Central America for certain members of the Minnesota National Guard in January, 1987, and prayed for an injunction against the implementation of any similar orders without his consent.

The District Judge rejected the Governor's challenge. He explained that the National Guard consists of

two overlapping, but legally distinct, organizations. Congress, under its constitutional authority to "raise and support armies" has created the National Guard of the United States, a federal organization comprised of state national guard units and their members.

666 F.Supp. 1319, 1320 (Minn.1987).4 The fact that these units also [110 S.Ct. 2422] maintain an identity as

Page 339

state national guards, part of the militia described in Art. I, § 8, of the Constitution, does not limit Congress' plenary authority to train the Guard "as it sees fit when the Guard is called to active federal service." Id. at 1324. He therefore concluded that

the gubernatorial veto found in §§ 672(b) and 672(d) is not constitutionally required. Having created the gubernatorial veto as an accommodation to the states, rather than pursuant to a constitutional mandate, the Congress may withdraw the veto without violating the Constitution.

Ibid.

A divided panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reached a contrary conclusion. It read the Militia Clause as preserving state authority over the training of the National Guard and its membership unless and until Congress "determined that there was some sort of exigency or extraordinary need to exert federal power." App. to Pet. for Cert. A92. Only in that event could the Army Power dissipate the authority reserved to the States under the Militia Clauses.

In response to a petition for rehearing en banc, the Court of Appeals vacated the panel decision and affirmed the judgment of the District Court. Over the dissent of two judges, the en banc court agreed with the District Court's conclusion that "Congress' army power is plenary and exclusive" and that the State's authority to train the militia did not conflict with congressional power to raise armies for the common defense and to control the training of federal reserve forces. 880 F.2d 11, 17-18 (1989).

Because of the manifest importance of the issue, we granted the Governor's petition for certiorari. 493 U.S. 1017 (1990). In the end, we conclude that the plain language

Page 340

of Article I of the Constitution, read as whole, requires affirmance of the Court of Appeals' judgment. We believe, however, that a brief description of the evolution of the present statutory scheme will help to explain that holding.

I

Two conflicting themes, developed at the Constitutional Convention and repeated in debates over military policy during the next century, led to a compromise in the text of the Constitution and in later statutory enactments. On the one hand, there was a widespread fear that a national standing Army posed an intolerable threat to individual liberty and to the sovereignty of the separate States,5 while, on the other hand, there was a recognition of the danger of relying on inadequately trained soldiers as the primary means of providing for the common defense.6 Thus, Congress was authorized both to [110 S.Ct. 2423] raise and support a national army and also to organize "the Militia."

Page 341

In the early years of the Republic, Congress did neither. In 1792, it did pass a statute that purported to establish "an Uniform Militia throughout the United States," but its detailed command that every able-bodied male citizen between the ages of 18 and 45 be enrolled therein and equip himself with appropriate weaponry7 was virtually ignored for more than a century, during which time the...

To continue reading

FREE SIGN UP