In 1971, in the midst of the Vietnam War, the United States Supreme Court decided that to qualify as a conscientious objector (“CO”) one must oppose all war, and not just a particular war. The Court’s decision in Gillette v. United States turned on its interpretation of section 6(j) of the Military Selective Service Act. Section 6(j) provided, in relevant part, that no person shall “be subject to combatant training and 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.” According to the Court, “an objection involving a particular war rather than all war would plainly not be covered by § 6(j).” Consequently, the Court construed the exemption from combatant military service in section 6(j) not to extend to so-called “selective conscientious objectors” (“SCOs”).
Andrew J. Haile,
Reconsidering Selective Conscientious Objection,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol52/iss4/4
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