293 U.S. 245 (1934), 55, Hamilton v. Regents of University of California

Docket Nº:No. 55
Citation:293 U.S. 245, 55 S.Ct. 197, 79 L.Ed. 343
Party Name:Hamilton v. Regents of University of California
Case Date:December 03, 1934
Court:United States Supreme Court

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293 U.S. 245 (1934)

55 S.Ct. 197, 79 L.Ed. 343



Regents of University of California

No. 55

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 3, 1934

Argued October 17, 18, 1934



1. An order of the Regents of the University of California requiring every abled-bodied male student who at the time of his matriculation, is under the age of twenty-four years, and who has not attained full academic standing as a junior student, to enroll in and complete a course in military science and tactics held a statute of a state within the meaning of Jud.Code, § 237(a), in view of the relation of the University to the state government and the legislative powers conferred upon the Regents by the state constitution in respect of the organization and government of the University. P. 257.

2. An appeal will not be dismissed for want of a substantial federal question unless the federal questions presented are clearly not debatable and utterly lacking in merit. P. 258.

3. A state, by accepting the benefits of the Act of July 2, 1862, for the endowment, maintenance, and support of a "land grant" college, becomes bound, as one of the conditions of the grant, to offer the students at such college instruction in military tactics, but remains free to determine the branches of military training to be offered, the content of the instruction, and the objects to be attained; whether the state becomes bound to require the students to take the training is a question not involved in the present case. P. 258.

4. Judicial notice is taken of the long established voluntary cooperation between federal and state authorities in respect of the military instruction given in the land grant colleges. P. 259.

5. The War Department has not been empowered to prescribe the military instruction in these institutions. P. 259.

6. Each state has authority to train its able-bodied male citizens of suitable age to fit them, if called upon, for service in the United states Army, the state militia, or the local constabulary or police, and, for these purposes, it may, with the permission of the national government, avail itself of the services of officers and the use of equipment belonging to the military establishment of the United states. P. 260.

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7. And, while so acting within its retained powers, and consistently with exertion of national power and with rights of individuals safeguarded by the national Constitution, the state is the sole judge of the means to be employed and the amount of training to be exacted. P. 260.

8. The "privileges and immunities" protected by the Fourteenth Amendment are those that belong to the citizens of the United States, as distinguished from citizens of the states -- those that arise from the Constitution and laws of the United States, as contrasted with those that spring from other sources. P. 261.

9. If the refusal by a state to allow its citizen to exercise the privilege of attending the state's university except upon condition that he take military training, to which he objects on religious and conscientious grounds, is not repugnant to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as an undue deprivation of liberty, it does not violate the privilege and immunities clause. P. 261.

10. The liberty guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment does not confer upon a conscientious and religious objector to war and military training the right to attend a state university without taking a course in military training required by the state as part of the curriculum. P. 262.

11. There is no conflict between the Regents' order involved in this case and the Briand-Kellogg Peace Pact, 46 Stat. 2343. P. 265.

219 Cal. 663, 28 P.2d 355, affirmed.

Appeal from a judgment denying a writ of mandate sought as a means of compelling the Regents of the University of California to permit Hamilton and Reynolds, Jr., two minors, to study at the University without taking the required course in military training.

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BUTLER, J., lead opinion

[55 S.Ct. 199] MR. JUSTICE BUTLER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an appeal under § 237(a), Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 344(a), from a judgment of the highest court of California sustaining a state law that requires students at its University to take a course in military science and tactics, the validity of which was by the appellants challenged as repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The appellants are the above-named minors and the fathers of each as his guardian ad litem and individually. They are taxpayers and citizens of the United States and of California. Appellees are the regents constituting a corporation created by the state to administer the University, its president, and its provost. Appellants applied to the state Supreme Court for a writ of mandate compelling appellees to admit the minors into the University as students. So far as they are material to the questions presented here, the allegations of the petition are:

In October, 1933, each of these minors registered, became a student in the University, and fully conformed to all its requirements other than that compelling him to take the course in military science and tactics in the Reserve Officers Training Corps which they assert to be an integral part of the military establishment of the United States, and not connected in any way with the militia or military establishment of the state. The primary object of there establishing units of the training corps is to qualify students for appointment in the Officers Reserve

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Corps. The courses in military training are those prescribed by the War Department. The regents require enrollment and participation of able-bodied male students who are citizens of the United States. These courses include instruction in rifle marksmanship, scouting and patrolling, drill and command, musketry, combat principles, and use of automatic rifles. Arms, equipment, and uniforms for use of students in such courses are furnished by the War Department of the United States government.

These minors are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church and of the Epworth League and connected religious societies and organizations. For many years, their fathers have been ordained ministers of that church. The Southern California Conference at its 1931 session adopted a resolution:

With full appreciation of the heroic sacrifices of all those who have conscientiously and unselfishly served their country in times of war, but with the belief that the time has come in the unfolding light of the new day for the settlement of human conflicts by pacific means, and because we as Christians owe our first and supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ. Because the Methodist Episcopal Church, in her General Conference of 1928, has declared: "We renounce war as an instrument of national policy." Because our nation led the nations of the world in signing the Paris Peace Pact, and the Constitution of the United States, Article 6, Section 2, provides that:

This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof and all treaties made under authority of the United States shall be the Supreme Law of the Land,

thus making the Paris Pact the supreme law of the land, which declares: "The high contracting parties agree that the settlement of all disputes or conflict shall never be sought except by pacific means."

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Therefore we, the Southern California Conference, memorialize the General Conference which convenes in Atlantic City in May, 1932, to petition the United States government to grant exemption from military service to such citizens who are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church as conscientiously believe that participation in war is a denial of their supreme allegiance to Jesus Christ.

And, in 1932, the General Conference of that church adopted as a part of its tenets and discipline:

We hold that our country is benefited by having as citizens those who unswervingly follow the dictates of their consciences . . . Furthermore, we believe it to be the duty of the churches to give moral support to those individuals who hold conscientious scruples against participation in military training or military service. We petition the government of the United States to grant to members of the Methodist Episcopal Church who may be conscientious objectors to war the same exemption from military service as has long been granted to members of the Society of Friends and other similar religious organizations. Similarly, we petition all educational institutions which require military training to excuse from such training any student belonging to the Methodist Episcopal Church who has conscientious scruples against it. We earnestly petition the government of the United States to cease to support [55 S.Ct. 200] financially all military training in civil educational institutions.

And the Southern California Conference, at its 1933 session, adopted the following:

Reserve Officers' Training Corps -- Recalling the action of the General Conference asking for exemption from military service for those members of our church to whom war and preparation for war is a violation of conscience, we request the authorities of our state universities at Berkeley, Los Angeles and Tucson to exempt Methodist students from the R.O.T.C. on the grounds of conscientious

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objection, and we hereby pledge the moral and official backing of this Conference, seeking such exemption, provided that it be understood that no conscientious objector shall participate in the financial profits of war. The Secretary of the Conference is asked to send copies of this paragraph to the governing boards of...

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