As we previously discussed here and here, earlier this week the High Court of Australia declared that country’s military justice system unconstitutional. Lane v. Morrison,  HCA 29, __ C.L.R. __ (Aug. 26, 2009). That ruling potentially invalidates 171 court-martial convictions pronounced since the current system took effect in October 2007. Reportedly everyone who remained confined as a result of one of those convictions has been released.
Now Australia must adopt a new military justice system. That is producing a fascinating conversation about fundamental matters, such as the balance between creating a system to protect good order and discipline versus ensuring justice. While we often have such discussions in the United States, the conversation is obviously more urgent when a new system is under construction. The discussion is also different than that which occurred in Britain following the European Court of Human Rights Findlay decision, because there a new system had already been adopted before the Court’s ruling — the ruling merely confirmed the old system’s invalidity under the European Convention on Human Rights.