This Day in International Law: December 2

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By Gina Choi

On December 2, 1954, the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty (“Treaty”) was signed between the U.S. and the Republic of China, Taiwan, which formed the basis of close security alliance between the U.S. and Taiwan. Some of the terms and conditions of the Treaty remained effective in the Taiwan Relations Act passed by the U.S. Congress, which became a new legal basis for U.S.-Taiwan relations after the U.S. formalized diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China and terminated the Treaty in 1979.

President Jimmy Carter’s termination of the Treaty without the approval of Senate was challenged by a few members of Congress including Senator Barry Goldwater and became the subject matter of the U.S. Supreme Court case Goldwater v. Carter. A majority of six Justices of the Supreme Court ruled that the case was not justiciable given the political nature of the dispute, and consequently, the termination was maintained. Three dissenting Justices opined that the case pertained to a question of whether the Constitution commits the President to certain political decision-making authority and should have been resolved by the Court as a matter of constitutional law.