The Law: Curbing Courts-Martial

While out on the town for a few beers in 1956, an Army sergeant named James O'Callahan broke into the hotel room of a teen-age girl on Waikiki Beach. There was a scuffle, the girl screamed, O'Callahan fled. He was later arrested by Hawaiian civilian police, turned over to the military for prosecution and charged with housebreaking, assault and attempted rape. At a court-martial, O'Callahan was convicted and given ten years at hard labor—a penalty harsher than he could have expected from many a civilian court.

As it threw out that conviction last week,* the U.S. Supreme Court indicated that the military's...

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