Dickinson v. United States,
346 U.S. 389 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dickinson v. United States, 346 U.S. 389 (1953)

Dickinson v. United States

No. 57

Argued October 21, 1953

Decided November 30, 1953

346 U.S. 389


There was no basis in fact for denying petitioner's claim to ministerial exemption under § 6(g) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, and his conviction for refusing to submit to his local board's induction order is reversed. Pp. 346 U. S. 390-397.

(a) The provision of the Act that classification orders by selective service authorities shall be "final" does not preclude judicial inquiry into the question of jurisdiction where there is no basis, in fact, for the classification order. P. 346 U. S. 394.

(b) The ministerial exemption being a matter of legislative grace, the registrant bears the burden of clearly establishing a right to the exemption. Pp. 346 U. S. 394-395.

(c) Petitioner made out a prima facie case within the statutory exemption by uncontroverted evidence that he was ordained in accordance with the ritual of his sect (Jehovah's Witnesses) and that he was regularly engaged, as a vocation, in teaching and preaching the principles of his sect and conducting public worship in the tradition of his religion. P. 346 U. S. 395.

(d) That petitioner worked five hours a week as a radio repairman did not supply a factual basis for denial of the ministerial exemption to which he was otherwise entitled. Pp. 346 U. S. 395-396.

(e) There is no affirmative evidence in the record in this case to support the local board's overt or implicit finding that petitioner had not painted a complete or accurate picture of his activities. P. 346 U. S. 396.

(f) When the uncontroverted evidence supporting a registrant's claim places him prima facie within the statutory exemption, the claim may not be dismissed solely on the basis of suspicion and speculation. Pp. 346 U. S. 396-397.

203 F.2d 336 reversed.

Page 346 U. S. 390

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