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United States v. Seeger

United States v. Seeger


United States v. Seeger: Background

The case of United States v. Seeger was a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court determined that the exemption from the military draft for what is classified as a “conscientious objector” could not be reserved only for those claiming conformity with the moral directives of a supreme person, but also for those whose opinions on war are derived from a “meaningful and sincere believe which occupies in the life of its holder a place congruent to that filled by the God of those.” 

The case of United States v. Seeger involved the application of the Universal Military Training and Service Act. This piece of legislation exempted individuals from military service if their religious beliefs or training makes them opposed to going to war or participating in military service. The case of United States v. Seeger further defined what appropriate training or belief as a person’s belief in relation to a Supreme body. This definition did not necessarily include any political, sociological or philosophical viewpoints or personal moral codes.

The case of United States v. Seeger featured individuals who believed in a supreme reality and individuals who believed in a universal reality. Neither of these realities was included in the class of beliefs covered by the Military Act. These individuals claimed that the Act unfairly did not exempt non-religious conscientious objectors. The individuals in United States v. Seeger went on to say that the law discriminated between forms of religious beliefs.


United States v. Seeger: The Decision

The majority decision offered by Chief Justice Clark stated that the decision was based on the definition of a “Supreme Being.” The court in United States v. Seeger determined whether a “supreme being” includes the theism that the parties involved espouse. More specifically, the case of United States v. Seeger looked at the intent of Congress and the wording of the language. The use of the term, according to the ruling in United States v. Seeger, was through to have been used to distinguish religious beliefs from political, social or philosophical beliefs which are not permitted for use under conscientious objection rulings. The primary question to be asked to assess which beliefs are deemed religious is an objective one, primarily, does the claimed belief hold the same place in the life of the objector as the belief in God holds in the life of one qualified for the exemption.