National Security Law Research Guide

This guide covers U.S. military, espionage, homeland security, and classification/declassification law.

Courts, Military Tribunals, and Case Law

I. Courts and Military Tribunals

To understand the precedential value of any military case law your research uncovers, it is necessary to understand the hierarchy of tribunals in the military justice system.

Court of Last Resort

Intermediate Appellate Courts

Lower Appellate Tribunals
Over the last century, there have been several different lower appellate bodies to hear appeals from courts-martial. Since decisions of now-defunct appellate bodies may still be binding on current courts, it is important to be familiar with each of the different military appellate bodies that has existed.

Trial-Level Tribunals
Criminal cases against members of the U.S. armed services are tried by courts-martial, while cases against non-U.S. citizens in the war against terrorism ("enemy combatants") are tried by military commissions. More information about military commissions is available from the Department of Defense.

Other Federal Courts
Non-military justice cases relating to national security issues (such as treaty interpretation, constitutional law, federal criminal law, and civil liberties) are heard by the general federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and U.S. District Courts. For more information on these courts and where you can find their decisions, see the Library's Case Law Research Guide.

II.  Military Tribunal Procedural Rules

Procedural rules for courts-martial are found in The Manual for Courts-Martial, which contains the Rules for Courts-Martial and the Military Rules of Evidence.


III. Case Law

Selected Topics and Key Numbers

Military Justice (Westlaw topic number 258A)

War and National Emergency (Westlaw topic number 402)


Case Reporters & Databases