Academic journal article Military Review

SHAPING U.S. MILITARY LAW: Governing a Constitutional Military

Academic journal article Military Review

SHAPING U.S. MILITARY LAW: Governing a Constitutional Military

Article excerpt

SHAPING U.S. MILITARY LAW: Governing a Constitutional Military

Joshua E. Kastenberg, Ashgate Publishing Limited, Burlington, Vermont, 2014, 257 pages

Shaping U.S. Military Law: Governing a Constitutional Military is a comprehensive study of the evolution and shaping of U.S. military law. The military has requirements for a set of governing laws unique to the culture and discipline of the military, yet it must allow for a degree of transparency and civilian oversight commensurate with the military being subordinate to civil authority. Joshua Kastenberg's central idea addresses the supposition by many legal academicians that the federal judiciary (the U.S. Supreme Court and the appropriate appellate courts) largely shows deference to the military establishment, thereby allowing the military to provide its own legal oversight and operate as a questionable anomaly. This is a common friction point of many of the cases the author uses to address this claim.

Two major themes recur throughout the book: the personalities of the Supreme Court justices throughout the years, and the ways their personal jurisprudence helped shape military law. The author provides surprising insight into the political leanings of the justices and which cases they did or did not address. From his research findings, you could also expect which justice would likely write the dissenting opinion. It might come as a surprise to the reader that "politics of the court" are alive and well even at the Supreme Court level.

The other recurring theme is how the courts attempted to define the jurisdiction of crimes committed by service members that might otherwise be the purview of a civil court, such as rape of a civilian in an off-post apartment or sexual assault of a minor. …

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