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United States v. Seeger - 380 U.S. 163, 85 S. Ct. 850 (1965)

Rule:

The test for determining whether a conscientious objector's beliefs are religious under the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C.S. § 456(j), might be stated in these words: A sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition.

Facts:

The court considered three consolidated cases involving claims of conscientious objectors under the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C.S. § 456(j). In all the cases, convictions were obtained for refusal to submit to induction in the armed forces. The appellate court affirmed the conviction in No. 29 and reversed the convictions in Nos. 50 and 51. The parties raised the basic question of the constitutionality of the section that defined the term "religious training and belief," as used in the Act, as an individual's belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but not including essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code. The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the judgments in Nos. 50 and 51 and reversed the judgment in No. 29.

Issue:

Did the objectors qualify for conscientious objector status under the Universal Military Training and Service Act, 50 U.S.C.S. § 456(j)?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The term "Supreme Being" as used in § 6(j) meant the concept of a power or being, or a faith, to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent. Each of the cases at bar satisfied the test for conscientious objector status.

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