Supreme Court Case of the Day

Ali

U.S. Supreme Court

Clay v. United States, 403 U.S. 698 (1971)

Clay v. United States

No. 783

Argued April 19, 1971

Decided June 28, 1971

403 U.S. 698

Syllabus

Petitioner appealed his local draft board’s rejection of his application for conscientious objector classification. The Justice Department, in response to the State Appeal Board’s referral for an advisory recommendation, concluded, contrary to a hearing officer’s recommendation, that petitioner’s claim should be denied, and wrote that board that petitioner did not meet any of the three basic tests for conscientious objector status. The Appeal Board then denied petitioner’s claim, but without stating its reasons. Petitioner refused to report for induction, for which he was thereafter tried and convicted. The Court of Appeals affirmed. In this Court, the Government has rightly conceded the invalidity of two of the grounds for denial of petitioner’s claim given in its letter to the Appeal Board, but argues that there was factual support for the third ground.

Held: Since the Appeal Board gave no reason for the denial of a conscientious objector exemption to petitioner, and it is impossible to determine on which of the three grounds offered in the Justice Department’s letter that board relied, petitioner’s conviction must be reversed. Sicurella v. United States348 U. S. 385.

430 F.2d 165, reversed.

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