Customary law and punishment

The Supreme Court, however, “has long recognized that the military is, by necessity, a specialized society separate from civilian society” and “that the military has, again by necessity, developed laws and traditions of its own during its long history.” See Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 743, 94 S. Ct. 2547, 2555, 41 L. Ed. 2d 439, 450-51 (1974). Moreover, in Parker v. Levy, where Dr. Levy had attacked his convictions under.  Articles 133 and 134 of the Uniform Code because of the claimed vagueness of these punitive articles, the Supreme Court pointed out:

Decisions of this Court during the last century have recognized that the longstanding customs and usages of the services impart accepted meaning to the seemingly imprecise standards of Arts 133 and 134.  In Dynes v. Hoover, 61 U.S. (20 How) 65, 15 L. Ed. 838 (1857), this Court upheld the Navy’s general article, which provided that “[a]ll crimes committed by persons belonging to the navy, which are not specified in the foregoing articles, shall be punished according to the laws and customs in such cases at sea.” The Court reasoned:

“[W]hen offences and crimes are not given in terms or by definition, the want of it may be supplied by a comprehensive enactment, such as the 32d article of the rules for the government of the navy, which means that courts martial have jurisdiction of such crimes as are not specified, but which have been recognized to be crimes and offences by the usages in the navy of all nations,and that they shall be punished according to the laws and customs of the sea. Notwithstanding the apparent indeterminateness of such a provision, it is not liable to abuse; for whatthose crimes are, and how they are to be punished, is well known by practical men in the navy and army, and by those who have studied the law of courts martial, and the offences of which the different courts martial, have cognizance.”

417 U.S. at 746-47, 94 S. Ct. at 2557, 41 L. Ed. at 452-53.

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