Perpich v. Department of Defense
Since 1933, federal law has provided that persons enlisting in a State National Guard unit simultaneously enlist in the National Guard of the United States, a part of the Army. The enlistees retain their status as State Guard members unless and until ordered to active federal duty and revert to state status upon being relieved from federal service. The authority to order the Guard to federal duty was limited to periods of national emergency until 1952, when Congress broadly authorized orders "to active duty or active duty for training" without any emergency requirement, but provided that such orders could not be issued without the consent of the governor of the State concerned. After two State Governors refused to consent to federal training missions abroad for their Guard units, the gubernatorial consent requirement was partially repealed in 1986 by the "Montgomery Amendment," which provides that a governor cannot withhold consent with regard to active duty outside the United States because of any objection to the location, purpose, type, or schedule of such duty. The Governor of Minnesota and the State of Minnesota (hereinafter collectively referred to as the Governor) filed a complaint for injunctive relief, alleging, inter alia, that the Montgomery Amendment had prevented him from withholding his consent to a 1987 federal training mission in Central America for certain members of the State Guard, and that the Amendment violates the Militia Clauses of Article I, § 8, of the Constitution, which authorize Congress to provide for (1) calling forth the militia to execute federal law, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions, and (2) organizing, arming, disciplining, and governing such part of the militia as may be employed in the federal service, reserving to the States the appointment of officers and the power to train the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. The District Court rejected the Governor's challenge, holding that the Federal Guard was created pursuant to Congress' Article I, § 8, power to raise and support armies; that the fact that Guard units also have an identity as part of the state militia does not limit Congress' plenary authority to train the units as it sees fit when the Guard is called to active federal service; and that, accordingly, the Constitution neither required the gubernatorial veto nor prohibited its withdrawal. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
Held: Article I's plain language, read as a whole, establishes that Congress may authorize members of the National Guard of the United States to be ordered to active federal duty for purposes of training outside the United States without either the consent of a State Governor or the declaration of a national emergency. Pp. 347-355.
(a) The unchallenged validity of the dual enlistment system means that Guard members lose their state status when called to active federal duty, and, if that duty is a training mission, the training is performed by the Army. During such periods, the second Militia Clause is no longer applicable. Pp. 347-349.
(b) This view of the constitutional issue was presupposed by the Selective Draft Law Cases, 245 U.S. 366, 375, 377, 381-384, 38 S.Ct. 159, 160, 161, 162-163, 62 L.Ed. 349, which held that the Militia Clauses do not constrain Congress' Article I, § 8, powers to provide for the common defense, raise and support armies, make rules for the governance of the Armed Forces, and enact necessary and proper laws for such purposes, but in fact provide additional grants of power to Congress. Pp. 349-351.
(c) This interpretation merely recognizes the supremacy of federal power in the military affairs area and does not significantly affect either the State's basic training responsibility or its ability to rely on its own Guard in state emergency situations. Pp. 351-352.
(d) In light of the exclusivity of federal power over many aspects of military affairs, see Tarble's Case, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 397, 20 L.Ed. 597, the powers allowed to the States by existing statutes are significant. Pp. 353-355.
(e) Thus, the Montgomery Amendment is not inconsistent with the Militia Clauses. Since the original gubernatorial veto was not constitutionally compelled, its partial repeal by the Amendment is constitutionally valid. Pp. 354-355.
880 F.2d 11 (CA 8 1989), affirmed.
STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
John R. Tunheim, St. Paul, Minn., for petitioners.
Solicitor Gen. Kenneth W. Starr, Washington, D.C., for respondents.
Justice STEVENS delivered the opinion of the Court.