MR. JUSTICE REED announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion in which THE CHIEF JUSTICE, MR. JUSTICE JACKSON, and MR. JUSTICE BURTON join.
These cases present the question of the scope of review of a selective service classification in a trial for absence without leave from a civilian public service camp. Petitioners are Jehovah's Witnesses who were classified as conscientious objectors despite their claim to classification as ministers of religion. Ministers are exempt from military and other service under the Act. All three petitioners exhausted their remedies in the selective service process and complied with the order of the local board directing them to report to camp. Cox and Thompson were indicted for leaving the camp without permission, and Roisum was indicted for failing to return after proper leave, in violation of § 11 of the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940. 54 Stat. 885, 57 Stat. 597, 50 U.S.C. Appendix §§ 301-318.
On their trials petitioners requested directed verdicts, at appropriate times, because the selective service orders were invalid and requested the court to charge the jury that they acquit petitioners if they found that they were ministers of religion and therefore exempt from all service. The trial judge did not grant petitioners' requests, however, and instructed the juries that they were not to concern themselves with the validity of the classification orders. Petitioners were convicted, and on appeal
Petitioner Cox registered under the Selective Training and Service Act on October 16, 1940, and in his questionnaire stated that he was 22 years old and had been employed as a truck driver since 1936. The local board classified him IV-F, as not physically fit for service, on January 31, 1941, and on March 10, 1942, changed the classification to I-A. Ten days later Cox filed a request for reclassification as IV-E (conscientious objector), stating that he had become a Jehovah's Witness in January 1942. The board at first rejected the claim, but on June 12 of the same year granted him the requested classification. Ten days later petitioner first made his claim for total exemption from service, claiming to be a minister of religion; the local board refused the exemption and its action was sustained by the board of appeal. On May 18, 1944, the board ordered Cox to report to camp, and on May 26 he complied and then immediately left camp and did not return.
Upon trial Cox's selective service file was received in evidence. It contained an ordination certificate from the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society stating that Cox was "a duly ordained minister of the Gospel" and that his "entire time" was devoted to missionary work. The file also contained an affidavit of a company servant, Cox's church superior, dated October 29, 1942, stating that Cox "regularly and customarily serves as a minister by going from house to house and conducting Bible Studies and Bible Talks." There was also an affidavit by Cox, dated October 28, 1942, stating that he was enrolled in the "Pioneer service" on October 16 and that he was "able
Petitioner Thompson also registered on October 16, 1940, claiming exemption as a minister. He stated in his questionnaire that he was 30 years old and that for the past 13 years he had operated a grocery store and had been a minister since August 1, 1940. At first the local board gave him a deferred classification because of dependency, but then changed his classification to IV-E. Thompson appealed to the board of appeal on November 5, 1943, explaining his duties as a minister and presenting a full statement of his argument that as a colporteur he was within the exemption for ministers as interpreted by
Petitioner Roisum also registered on the initial registration day, and filed a questionnaire stating that he was 22 years old, that he had worked for the past 15 years as a farmer, and that he was ordained as a minister in June 1940. Roisum made claim to a minister's exemption
Upon trial Roisum made no effort to introduce new evidence showing the nature of his duties as a minister. He did request the court to charge that if the decision of the local board erroneously classified him in IV-E the order was void and after conviction he moved for a judgment of acquittal or a new trial on the ground that the evidence in his selective service file showed that the classification of the board was arbitrary and capricious. The trial judge examined the file and concluded that there was no ground to support Roisum's motion.
Petitioners are entitled to raise the question of the validity of their selective service classifications in this proceeding. They have exhausted their remedies in the selective service process, and whatever their position might be in attempting to raise the question by writs of habeas corpus against the camp custodian, they are entitled to raise the issue as a defense in a criminal prosecution for absence without leave. Gibson v. United States, 329 U.S. 338, 351-360. The scope of review to which petitioners are entitled, however, is limited; as we said in Estep v. United States, 327 U.S. 114, 122-23: "The provision making the decisions of the local boards `final' means to us that Congress chose not to give administrative action under this Act the customary scope of judicial review which obtains under other statutes. It means that the courts are not to weigh the evidence to determine whether the classification made by the local boards was justified. The decisions of the local boards made in conformity with the regulations are final even though they may be erroneous. The question of jurisdiction of the local board is reached only if there is no
Section 5 (d) of the Selective Training and Service Act provides that "regular or duly ordained ministers of religion" shall be exempt from training and service under the Act, and § 622.44 of Selective Service Regulations defines the terms "regular minister of religion" and "duly ordained minister of religion."
It will be observed that § 622.44 of the regulation makes "ordination" the only practical difference between a "regular" and a "duly ordained minister." This seems consistent with § 5 of the Act. We are of the view that the regulation conforms to the Act and that it is valid under the rule-making power conferred by § 10 (a). We agree,
Our examination of the facts, as stated herein in each case, convinces us that the board had adequate basis to deny to Cox, Thompson and Roisum classification as ministers, regular or ordained. We confine ourselves to the facts appearing in the selective service files of the three petitioners, although the only documents dealing with the petitioners' status as ministers were submitted by petitioners themselves. The documents show that Thompson and Roisum spent only a small portion of their time in religious activities, and this fact alone, without a far stronger showing than is contained in either of the files of the registrants' leadership in church activities and the dedication of their lives to the furtherance of religious work, is sufficient for the board to deny them a minister's classification. As for Cox, the documents suggest but do not prove that Cox spent full time as a "pioneer" between October 1942 and May 1944 when he was ordered to camp. As he made claim of conscientious objector classification only after he was reclassified I-A from IV-F and still later claimed ministerial exemption, the board was justified in deciding from the available facts that Cox had not established his ministerial status. The board might have reasonably held that nothing less than definite evidence of his full devotion of his available time to religious leadership would suffice under these circumstances.
Petitioners do not limit themselves to the claim that directed verdicts should have been entered in their favor because of the invalidity of their classifications as a matter of law; they claim that the issue should have been submitted with appropriate instructions to the jury.
Petitioners also claim that they were denied the right to introduce new evidence at the trial to support their contention that the orders were invalid. Roisum made no attempt to introduce such evidence, Cox was in fact
We perceive no error to petitioners' prejudice in the records.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER concurs in the result.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACK concurs, dissenting.
I agree with the majority of the Court that we can reverse the judgments below only if there was no basis in fact for the classification. I also agree that that question is properly one of law for the Court. To that extent I join in the opinion of the Court. But I do not agree that the local boards had adequate basis to deny to petitioners the classification of ministers. My disagreement is required by what I conceive to be the mandate of Congress, that all who preach and teach their faith and are recognized as ministers within their religious group are entitled to the statutory exemption.
The exemption runs to "regular or duly ordained ministers of religion." There is no suggestion that only ministers of the more orthodox or conventional faiths are included. Nor did Congress make the availability of the exemption turn on the amount of time devoted to religious activity. It exempted all regular or duly ordained ministers. Hence, I think the Selective Service Regulations properly required that a "regular" minister, as distinguished from a "duly ordained" minister,
It is not disputed that Jehovah's Witnesses constitute a religious sect or organization. We have, moreover, recognized that its door-to-door evangelism is as much religious activity as "worship in the churches and preaching from the pulpits." Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, 109. The Selective Service files of these petitioners establish, I think, their status as ministers of that sect. Their claims to that status are supported by affidavits of their immediate superiors in the local group and by their national headquarters. And each of them was spending substantial time in the religious activity of preaching their faith. If a person is in fact engaging in the ministry, his motives for doing so are quite immaterial.
To deny these claimants their statutory exemption is to disregard these facts or to adopt a definition of minister which contracts the classification provided by Congress.
The classification as a minister may not be denied because the registrant devotes but a part of his time to religious activity. It is not uncommon for ordained ministers
MR. JUSTICE MURPHY, with whom MR. JUSTICE RUTLEDGE concurs, dissenting.
With certain limitations, this Court has recognized that a person on trial for an alleged violation of the Selective Training and Service Act has the right to prove that the prosecution is based upon an invalid draft board classification. But care must be taken to preclude the review of the classification by standards which allow the judge to do little more than give automatic approval to the draft board's action. Otherwise the right to prove the invalidity of the classification is drained of much of its substance and the trial becomes a mere formality. Such empty procedure has serious connotations, especially when we deal with those who claim they have been illegally denied exemptions relating to conscientious beliefs or ministerial status.
Specifically, I object to the standard of review whereby the draft board classification is to be sustained unless there is no evidence to support it. Less than a substantial amount of evidence is thus permitted to legalize the classification.
These stakes are too high, in my opinion, to permit an inappreciable amount of supporting evidence to sanction a draft board classification. Since guilt or innocence centers on that classification, its validity should be established by something more forceful than a wisp of evidence or a speculative inference. Otherwise the defendant faces an almost impossible task in attempting to prove the illegality of the classification, the presence of a mere fragment of contrary evidence dooming his efforts. And such a scant foundation should not justify brushing aside bona fide claims of conscientious belief or ministerial status. If respect for human dignity means anything, only evidence of a substantial nature warrants approval of the draft board classification in a criminal proceeding.
It is needless to add that, from my point of view, the proof in these cases falls far short of justifying the conviction of the petitioners. There is no suggestion in the record that they were other than bona fide ministers.
"SEC. 5. . . .
"(d) Regular or duly ordained ministers of religion, and students who are preparing for the ministry in theological or divinity schools recognized as such for more than one year prior to the date of enactment of this Act, shall be exempt from training and service (but not from registration) under this Act."
Selective Service Regulations, 32 C.F.R., 1941 Supp.:
Section 622.44. "Class IV-D: Minister of religion or divinity student. (a) In Class IV-D shall be placed any registrant who is a regular or duly ordained minister of religion or who is a student preparing for the ministry in a theological or divinity school which has been recognized as such for more than 1 year prior to the date of enactment of the Selective Training and Service Act (September 16, 1940).
"(b) A `regular minister of religion' is a man who customarily preaches and teaches the principles of religion of a recognized church, religious sect, or religious organization of which he is a member, without having been formally ordained as a minister of religion; and who is recognized by such church, sect, or organization as a minister.
"(c) A `duly ordained minister of religion' is a man who has been ordained in accordance with the ceremonial ritual or discipline of a recognized church, religious sect, or religious organization, to teach and preach its doctrines and to administer its rites and ceremonies in public worship; and who customarily performs those duties."
"Nor can we say there was no evidence to support the final classification made by the board of appeal. Samuels' statement that he was best fitted to be a Hebrew school teacher and spiritual leader, the two-year interruption in his education, his return to the day session of the seminary in the month when his selective service questionnaire was returned, and the fact that the seminary in question was apparently not preparing men exclusively for the rabbinate make questionable his claim that he was preparing in good faith for the rabbinate. A registrant might seek a theological school as a refuge for the duration of the war. Congress did not create the exemption in § 5 (d) for him. There was some evidence that this was Samuels' plan; and that evidence, coupled with his demeanor and attitude, might have seemed more persuasive to the boards than it does in the cold record. Our inquiry is ended when we are unable to say that the board flouted the command of Congress in denying Samuels the exemption."
The distinction between "regular" and "duly ordained" ministers is, I think, more than the ordination of the latter. The "duly ordained" minister performs all the customary functions of a minister of a church. The concept of "regular" minister more nearly fits those who, like Jehovah's Witnesses, follow less orthodox or conventional practices.