critique discussion below


Reid v. Covert (1957) was quite an interesting case to say the least. Clarice Covert was the wife of an Air Force sergeant who was stationed on a United States Air Force (USAF) airbase in England, where they both lived. Clarice Covert was charged with murdering her husband, the sergeant, and was then tried and convicted in a military court martial, even though she was a civilian and not in the military. Afterward, “she was brought to the United States and confined in the Federal Reformatory for Women” in Alderson, West Virginia (Casetext, n.d.)

On an appeal, “the United States Court of Military Appeals set aside her conviction on grounds not material here, and she was transferred to the District of Columbia (D.C.) jail to await a rehearing by court-martial” (Castext, n.d.). It was there that Clarice “filed for a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for D.C.,” where she alleged that she was not subject to court martials because of the unconstitutionality of Article 2 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), 50 U.S.C. § 552. Afterward, the District Court “ordered the writ to issue, and the Government appealed directly to this Court” (Casetext, n.d.). In the end, it was decided that U.S. civilians outside of the country could not be tried by military court martial and that they still retained their Constitutional rights. They can only be tried by jury.

This case is relevant to homeland security policy because it makes the important distinction between the rights of U.S. civilian citizens abroad and non-citizens. The case dictates that U.S. civilian citizens retain their Constitutional rights, to include a trial by jury, even in such cases as these that involve the military. If this were to be a case against a non-citizen, it could have become a military tribunal, though I am not certain what would have been the case had it been a UK citizen or another nationality. Perhaps it would have been handled between the UK government and the US government/military? It is very interesting to think about.


Casetext. (n.d.) Reid v. Covert. Retrieved from

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