Clinton v. Goldsmith, 526 U.S. 529, 4 (1999)

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Opinion of the Court

each month for six years. The Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction and sentence in 1995, and when he sought no review of that decision in the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF), his conviction became final, see 871(c)(1)(A).

In 1996, Congress expanded the President's authority by empowering him to drop from the rolls of the Armed Forces any officer who had both been sentenced by a court-martial to more than six months' confinement and served at least six months.1 See National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, 110 Stat. 325, 10 U. S. C. 1161(b)(2), 1167 (1994 ed., Supp. III).2 In reliance on this statutory authorization, the Air Force notified Goldsmith in 1996 that it was taking action to drop him from the rolls.

Goldsmith did not immediately contest the proposal to drop him, but rather petitioned the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals for extraordinary relief under the All Writs Act, 28 U. S. C. 1651(a), to redress the unrelated alleged inter-1 When a servicemember is dropped from the rolls, he forfeits his military pay. See 37 U. S. C. 803. The drop-from-the-rolls remedy targets a narrow category of servicemembers who are absent without leave (AWOL) or else have been convicted of serious crimes. Since 1870, the President has had authority to drop from the rolls of the Army any officer who has been AWOL for at least three months. See Act of July 15, 1870, 17, 16 Stat. 319. The power was subsequently extended to officers confined in prison after final conviction by a civil court, see Act of Jan. 19, 1911, ch. 22, 36 Stat. 894, and then to "any armed force" officer AWOL for at least three months or else finally sentenced to confinement in a federal or state penitentiary or correctional institution, see Act of May 5, 1950, 10, 64 Stat. 146.

2 Section 1161(b)(2) authorizes the President to "drop from the rolls of any armed force any commissioned officer . . . who may be separated under Section 1167 of this title by reason of a sentence to confinement adjudged by a court-martial." Section 1167 provides that "a member sentenced by a court-martial to a period of confinement for more than six months may be separated from the member's armed force at any time after the sentence to confinement has become final . . . and the member has served in confinement for a period of six months."

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