No benefit of appeal

RIGA, PETER J.

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS________ NO BENEFIT OF APPEAL REGISTRATION & BASIC RIGHTS Recently two young men came to my office seeking my advice about registration for the draft. They were religious...

...aiders and abetters have so far not been indicted, but the government must ntake a decision about these latter men and women very soon...
...After they heard me out, they promised to think and to pray over what I said and to come back to see me in a week...
...As such, they violate almost every Supreme Court case that has addressed such issues (e.g., Girouardv...
...The two young men who came to my office were religious C.O.s...
...I explained all the possible consequences of their refusal, but did not try to dissuade or encourage them...
...Moreover, they considered registration a form of hypocrisy where being "good boys" would assure themselves govern582 mental benefits under the two Solomon Acts...
...James Madison introduced the original Bill of Rights into Congress...
...While this right of conscientious objection was ultimately not accepted, it was because the Bill of Rights was originally applicable only to the federal government which did not conscript...
...They were religious conscientious ob- jectors to all forms of war, preparation for war, and killing...
...UnitedStates in 1946...
...Even the courts are denied the discretion of granting CO...
...When I asked whether they could sign the registration form and wait for later contact with the Selective Service which would allow them to express their CO...
...Given past Supreme Court decisions, such fundamental lack of due process would seem to be unconstitutional on its face...
...Rhode Island and Pennsylvania had statutes in this respect as far back as 1670 and 1673...
...None of these laws contain provisions to allow a CO...
...Consequently, they faced the possibility of five years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine if they did not register...
...That would not force the constitutional issue...
...the City of Philadelphia, it is absolutely necessary that every person able to bear arms (except such as are conscientiously scrupulous against in every case), should give their personal service...
...Unfortunately, the majority of lower federal courts have found the Solomon Act constitutional with no word yet from the Supreme Court...
...They felt that registration was a first step in the killing process and they had to conscientiously object right from the beginning...
...All the original colonies had such a right in their Charters and in their own militia laws...
...This simple procedure would provide a way out for C.O.s, as well as give the government all the information it is seeking...
...On June 8, 1789, Virginia Rep...
...If our legislators cannot see their way to such a simple acknowledgment and accommodation, then young men like those who came to my office will be looking to the Court, which has, after all, protected other religiously based refusals not to salute the flag or work on Sunday, for example that are far less oppressive and overbearing...
...Chances are that a few will be selected, indicted, and sentenced...
...George Washington wrote: "As the principal object of the enemy is...
...Finally, no CO...
...They wanted to witness for peace and nonviolence at all times and in every condition...
...The rights of conscience are completely ignored in all three laws...
...I wrote the attorney general, the local U.S...
...There is no right of administrative hearing to one who feels he cannot register because of his conscience...
...The right was so absolute that such persons could not be forced to train or kill in the face of invading hostile forces from Dutch settlers and Indians...
...The original Third Amendment read as follows: "A well-regulated militia . . . being the last security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but no one religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, shall be compelled to render military service in person...
...Even then the government must use the least restrictive means to achieve its goal...
...For those who like to talk about "original intent" of the Founding Fathers, the question of conscientious objection goes to the heart of the Bill of Rights itself...
...But the "Free Exercise Clause" gives the objecting religious citizen the power not to obey such a law if he or she is conscientiously opposed to it, unless the government can show not only a legitimate governmental interest but a "compelling state interest" of paramount necessity in order to justify an infringement on religious practices and beliefs...
...Registration is the first step in that process...
...By registering they would be telling the government where they lived, with no provision for telling the same government who they were...
...Attorney, and the District Federal Court of their decision, of which I fully approved...
...Let me explain: There are presently three actively enforced draft laws that deny any right to conscientious objection: the draft registration requirement and two Solomon Act laws...
...All this will be accomplished by a simple refusal to register...
...We are presently awaiting action by the government...
...But, at the registration stage, there is no legal way to object...
...The two young men felt they could not honestly tell the government that they were available for military service without also stating that they would refuse to take any part in the military machine...
...claims, and the Solomon Acts make no provision for CO...
...The Solomon Act laws preclude nonregistrants from access to federal education or job training assistance...
...status, they demurred for the same reasons...
...The registration law and the Solomon Acts force C.O.s to choose between their consciences and the law, between governmental benefits and a violation of conscience by signing a draft pledge...
...Other men who have been found guilty have been sent to prison...
...Under this article, said the Court, Congress had absolute power to grant or withhold exemption from the draft at its discretion because it is the duty of citizens by force of arms to defend the government...
...They came because of my previous experience with CO.s during the Vietnam era...
...peter j. RIGA Peter Riga is an attorney in private practice...
...This pointless offense to conscience and needless conflict for religiously sincere objectors could be easily remedied by an act of Congress...
...One was a Methodist, the other a Catholic...
...to register as such...
...Historically, conscientious objection by religious groups and individuals was vigorously protected from colonial days...
...The U.S...
...There is no space on any of the registration forms for indicating CO...
...exemptions, providing neither administrative nor judicial review...
...Pennsylvania, under William Penn the Quaker, had done the same in 1670...
...During the Revolutionary War, when Philadelphia was in imminent 583 danger of being taken by the British, Gen...
...I simply responded that I now was prepared to proceed from their attorney status, to aiding and abetting them openly in this decision...
...It was their decision to make with full disclosure and knowledge...
...If it was a conscientious decision, it would be their consciences, not my ability to advocate, that would be at issue...
...And this was recognized even during the gravest threats to the new nation...
...The result is that under these laws thousands of CO.s face indictment, felony conviction , and loss of federal assistance if they refuse to register for the draft...
...When they returned, they informed me of their decision to resist...
...No dissimulation, no doublespeak, no hiding their status...
...In the face of this danger, the Rhode Island Legislature passed the Militia Conscription Bill in 1673, which exempted from active military duty all those who for reasons of conscience could not "train, arm, rally to fight, or kill another person...
...The first requires all young men born after 1960 to register with the Selective Service or face criminal conviction with a maximum of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine...
...The present laws provide no alternate forms, no appeals procedures...
...status...
...In addition, the Solomon Act laws also preclude any administrative hearing or juridical review for any denial of educational and job training benefits...
...It has interpreted Article 1, Section 8, as giving Congress the power to draft...
...may raise conscientious objection as a defense to any crirninal prosecution resulting from nonregistration...
...To them, registration is a form of dishonesty...
...Supreme Court has never directly confronted the question of whether a person has a constitutional right to be a conscientious objector...

Vol. 114 • October 1987 • No. 18


 
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