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Goldwater v. Carter

    Brief Fact Summary. President Carter terminated a treaty with Taiwan without congressional approval.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. This is a political question and not justiciable.

    Facts. President Carter terminated a treaty with Taiwan, and a few Congressional members felt that this deprived them of their Constitutional function. However, no Congressional action was ever taken. The Senate considered a resolution that would require the President to get Senate approval before any mutual defense treaty could be terminated, but there was no final vote on the resolution.

    Issue. Is this issue of whether a President can terminate a treaty without Congressional approval a non-justiciable political question?

    Held. Yes. Whether or not a President can terminate a treaty closely involves his foreing relations authority and therefore is not reviewable by the Supreme Court.

    Dissent. Even though the Court cannot review political questions, the court has the power to review whether or not a particular branch of government has exclusive decision-making power over an issue.
    Concurrence. This issue was not ripe because the Senate never tried to invoke a resolution against it. Were it ripe, however, the issue would be justiciable because it would require an interpretation of the Constitution. Even though the Supreme Court cannot hear purely political questions, it can review cases to determine if the interpretation of the Constitution is correct.

    Discussion. In the arena of foreign affairs, the Court has held issues to be political questions even though many Justices believe these issues relate to the interpretation of the Constitution, and are therefore reviewable. The Court places a great emphasis on establishing a single, unified voice for the nation on foreign affairs is


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