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United States v. Merkle

decided: June 21, 1971.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
CHRISTIAN ROBERT MERKLE, APPELLANT



McLaughlin and Van Dusen, Circuit Judges, and Hannum, District Judge. Gerald McLaughlin, Circuit Judge (dissenting).

Author: Van Dusen

Opinion OF THE COURT

VAN DUSEN, Circuit Judge.

Registrant Merkle has appealed from a judgment and commitment dated June 24, 1970, for refusing to be inducted into the Armed Services of the United States in violation of 50 U.S.C.App. ยง 462(a).

On February 9, 1965, Merkle filed his filled out questionnaire. Under series 8 re conscientious objection if any, he stated "does not apply." In that same year he registered as a student in Pennsylvania State College; later he transferred to Duquesne University. He went through all of his college years with the classification of II-S (student deferment). As his undergraduate course was drawing to a close in 1968, he applied for a conscientious objector classification on March 29 and supported his application by letters filed in June 1968. In June 1968, Merkle was reclassified as I-A. He asked for a personal appearance before his local draft board which was granted. Thereafter the board classified him as I-A. He requested an appeal which was granted. The Appeal Board classified him I-A. He was given a Presidential appeal, after which he was classified I-A.*fn1

We have concluded that the March 19, 1971, decision of this court in United States v. Crownfield, 439 F.2d 839 (3d Cir.), requires a reversal of the abovementioned June 24, 1970 judgment because of a denial of the procedural principle adopted in Scott v. Commanding Officer, 431 F.2d 1132, 1137 (3d Cir.1970). The information submitted to the local board in the spring of 1968 made out a prima facie case for a conscientious objector classification,*fn2 and the board did not submit its reasons to the registrant as required by Crownfield, supra.

The claim for exemption on registrant's Form 150 stated:

"(B) I am, by reason of my religious training and belief, conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form and I am further conscientiously opposed to participation in noncombatant training and service in the Armed Forces. I, therefore, claim exemption from both combatant and noncombatant training and service in the Armed Forces."

Sheets attached to the form included this language:

"I believe in a Supreme Being. * * * This Supreme Being is the Creative Force of Love, that is always at work, not only in man, but throughout all of nature. It is the love that allows one man to understand another; it is the life-force that refreshes nature each spring. * * *

"I believe that all living things are holy. Each man has infinite intrinsic worth.

"In a man, the Supreme Being is felt as love, as care. * * *

"I believe that each man is of the same Source. Life is a gift in which all men share equally. No man can presume the right over life and death of another. * * *

"Love and understanding among men are delicate; they are destroyed by violence and war. To kill another man is an act of despair and blindness. I believe that to kill another is to sacrifice love and understanding in oneself. I am not willing ...


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