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Congress intends to exempt persons who oppose participating in all war -- participation in war in any form -- and persons who object solely to participation in a particular war are not within the purview of the exemption in 50 U.S.C.S. App. § 456(j), even though the latter objection may have such roots in a claimant's conscience and personality that it is religious in character.
Petitioner in No. 85, who was convicted for failure to report for induction, and petitioner in No. 325, who sought discharge from the armed forces upon receipt of orders for Vietnam duty, claimed exemption from military service because of their conscientious objection to participation in the Vietnam conflict, as an "unjust" war, pursuant to § 6 (j) of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967. The aforementioned section provided that no person shall be subject to "service in the armed forces of the United States who, by reason of religious training and belief, is conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form." Petitioners also challenged the constitutionality of § 6 (j) as construed to cover only objectors to all war, as violative of the Free Exercise and Establishment of Religion Clauses of the First Amendment.
The Court held that Congress intended to exempt persons who opposed participating in all war and that persons who objected solely to participation in a particular war were not within the purview of § 6(j), even though the latter objection may have had such roots in the objector's conscience and personality that it was religious in character. The objectors failed to make the requisite showing with respect to § 6(j) as their opposition was to the war in Vietnam and not to all war. Anent the second issue, the Court held that Section 6(j) did not violate the First Amendment because valid neutral reasons existed for limiting the exemption to objectors to all war. There were governmental interests of a kind and weight sufficient to justify under the Free Exercise Clause the impact of the draft laws on those who objected to particular wars.