Nguyen v. United States, 539 U.S. 69, 3 (2003)

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Cite as: 539 U. S. 69 (2003)

Opinion of the Court

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Rehnquist, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined, post, p. 83.

Jeffrey T. Green argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs were Howard Trapp and Rawlen T. Mantanona, both by appointment of the Court, 538 U. S. 920, Carter G. Phillips, and Eric A. Shumsky.

Patricia A. Millett argued the cause for the United States. With her on the brief were Solicitor General Olson, Assistant Attorney General Chertoff, and Deputy Solicitor General Dreeben.

Justice Stevens delivered the opinion of the Court.

These cases present the question whether a panel of the Court of Appeals consisting of two Article III judges and one Article IV judge had the authority to decide petitioners' appeals. We conclude it did not, and we therefore vacate the judgments of the Court of Appeals.


Petitioners are residents of the island of Guam, which has been a possession of the United States since the end of the Spanish-American War.1 The Navy administered the island, except for the period of Japanese occupation during World War II, until Congress established Guam as an unincorpo-rated Territory with the passage of the Organic Act of Guam in 1950.2 Pursuant to Congress' authority under Article IV, 3, of the Constitution to "make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging

Gordon Rhea filed a brief for Thomas K. Moore as amicus curiae urging affirmance.

1 See Treaty of Paris, Art. II, 30 Stat. 1755 (1899).

2 64 Stat. 384. See generally A. Leibowitz, Defining Status: A Comprehensive Analysis of United States Territorial Relations 313, 323 (1989).


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