For Law Students

Join Now

Justices phrase their answer in the form of a question (Goldwater v. Carter)

Goldwater v. Carter

This is the latest in a series of case brief videos. Have you signed up for your Quimbee membership? The American Bar Association offers three months of Quimbee study aids (a $72 value) for law student members. And if you go Premium, you’ll receive Quimbee Legal Ethics Outline (a $29 value) as part of our Premium Legal Ethics Bundle. Ready to go all in? Go Platinum and get 3 years of unlimited access to Quimbee and 3 years of ABA Premium membership (nearly a $1,000 value) for just $499.

In the 1970s, President Jimmy Carter hoped to establish a treaty with the People’s Republic of China. To facilitate that, President Carter unilaterally rescinded a defense treaty between the United States and Taiwan. A group of senators, including Senator Barry Goldwater, were incensed by the president’s action and filed suit.

The Constitution is silent as to how a treaty may be rescinded. Nevertheless, the senators argued that because two-thirds of the Senate must ratify a treaty, Senate approval was also required to rescind one.

The United States Supreme Court granted cert. The issue was whether the president had the authority to unilaterally nullify a treaty.

Without oral argument, the Court issued a brief per curiam opinion declaring the question nonjusticiable. Thus, the case was remanded back to the lower court for dismissal.

However, the opinion was far from unanimous. Justices wrote separately to detail why the question was nonjusticiable, argue that the case was not yet ripe, or dissent entirely and advocate for a ruling on the merits.

The justices’ positions are instructive, but the question of whether the president may terminate a treaty without congressional approval remains open.

Quimbee Quimbee is one of the most widely used and respected study aids for law students. With a massive and growing library of case briefs, video lessons, practice exams, and multiple-choice questions, Quimbee helps its members achieve academic success in law school.