Tag Archives: Conscientious Objection
Hobby Lobby and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act: new arguments for military Conscientious Objectors?
By Deborah Karpatkin and Peter Goldberger
This article was published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch.
Much has been written about the Hobby Lobby cases, both before and after those important June 2014 Supreme Court decisions. Those favoring robust enforcement of the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), and full access to reproductive services under the ACA, were understandably concerned by the Court’s ruling that the individually held sincere religious beliefs of the owners of private corporations would allow the corporations to avoid providing contraceptive services to their employees and the employees’ dependents, notwithstanding the requirements of the ACA regulations. Those concerned about legal protections for religious liberty looked to the cases for their favorable decision on whether closely-held, for-profit corporations would to enjoy “free exercise” rights under the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (“RFRA”) based on their owners’ sincere religious beliefs.
By Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience and War
Published in the Spring 2016 issue of On Watch.
It’s called the Conscience Committee and it is a committee of the Army. It is not clear exactly who they are or what defines the bar they have set, but if you apply for recognition as a conscientious objector in Israel, they will be deciding your fate.
As I listened to a panel of “Refusniks” (draft and war resisters in Israel) on a speaking tour in the US, I felt as though they were recounting pieces of the story of conscientious objection in the United States 100 years ago.
I felt grateful for the substantial advancements we have made in extending and defending the rights of conscientious objectors in the US. Also, though, I considered the significant work still ahead of us.
The Center on Conscience & War has worked with Conscientious Objectors (COs) for over 75 years. Over the course of those many years, we have observed trends of both accommodation and repression of conscientious objection. Recently, our office has experienced a sharp rise in cases from members of the military seeking discharge as COs. At the same time, we are observing – and COs are experiencing – troubling and unexpected events and consequences at the decision-making levels of the different military branches.
By Deborah H. Karpatkin
The years 2005-2011 saw a number of federal court cases considering habeas corpus applications from military conscientious objectors. These cases were ably considered in Steve Collier’s excellent article in the March 2011 issue of On Watch.
Today, with the military reducing its personnel and combat activity, we are, not surprisingly, seeing fewer CO applications. Indeed, we know of no reported habeas cases from military COs after the Fourth Circuit’s decision in Kanai v. McHugh.1
Nevertheless, a review of recent cases may be valuable for practitioners and counselors, in these four respects.
First, each of the four appellate CO habeas decisions of the Afghanistan-Iraq era – Aguayo v. Harvey, Hanna v. Secretary, Watson v. Geren, and Kenai v. McHugh (citations at endnotes 2, 7, 9, 13, respectively) – has generated some additional law. Attention to these leading CO cases offers some insight into how courts will apply their holdings in future CO litigation.
Second, recent case law offers opportunities for practitioners and counselors seeking remedies for the hardships faced by unsuccessful COs.
Third, courts continue to be unwelcoming to cases challenging selective service registration on CO grounds.
Finally, the term “conscientious objector” continues to have legal vitality in a range of non-military CO cases, which in turn may influence the judges who decide our military CO cases.
MLTF member (and past co-chair) James M. Branum, an attorney in Oklahoma City, was a guest on Democracy Now! to talk about Bowe Bergdahl and the legal rights of war resisters. “There Were No Good Options”: Bergdahl Should Get Honorable Discharge, Says Lawyer. Follow link for transcript; video after jump.