Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration

PETITIONER: Hernandez
RESPONDENT: Veterans' Administration
LOCATION: The White House

DOCKET NO.: 72-700
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 415 US 391 (1974)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1973
DECIDED: Mar 04, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Gerald P. Norton - argued the cause for the respondents
Jack R. Petranker - pro hac vice, argued the cause for the petitioners
Lawrence L. Curtice - argued the cause for the petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1973 in Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 04, 1974 in Hernandez v. Veterans' Administration

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you, Mr. Justice Stewart.

The disposition in 72-1297 and 72-700, Johnson against Robison and Hernandez against Veterans Administration will be announced by Mr. Justice Brennan.

William J. Brennan, Jr.:

The Veteran's Readjustment Act of 1966 provides educational assistance benefits for draftees inducted into the Armed Forces and also for conscientious objectors also inducted into the Armed Forces who serve with the troupes on non-combatant duty.

The Act does not, however, provide educational assistance benefits for draftees classified 10, that is conscientious objectors who perform required alternative civilian service, for example, the two year service perform by appellee in Johnson v. Robison at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.

Because appellee was an alternative civilian service performer, the Veteran's Administration denied his application for educational assistance benefits.

Appellee there upon challenged the constitutionality of the pertinent provisions of the Veterans Readjustment Act in this action brought in the District Court for Massachusetts, alleging that the provisions as applied to deny him benefits, violated his First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and his Fifth Amendment guarantee of equal protection laws.

The Veteran's Administration sought dismissal of the suit on the ground that the District Court lacked jurisdiction because 38 U.S.C. Section 211 (a) prohibits judicial review of decisions of the administration.

The District Court held that 211 (a) was inapplicable to suit, contesting the constitutionality of provisions of the Act and denied that motion.

On the merits, the District Court held that appellee's First Amendment claim was without merit, but sustained appellee's equal protection claim and entered a declaratory judgment that the challenged sections violated the Fifth Amendment.

We agree that Section 211 (a), did not bar appellee's suit and also agree that appellee's First Amendment claim is without merit.

We disagree, however, that the contested sections deny appellee equal protect laws and therefore reverse of the judgment of the District Court.

Mr. Justice Douglas dissents and has filed a dissenting opinion.

In Hernandez, 72-700, a companion case to Johnson v. Robinson, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action brought by a conscientious objector who performed out alternative civilian service on the ground that 28 -- 38 U.S.C. 211 (a) barred the suit.

Since we have held today in Johnson and Robison that 211 (a) does not bar such suits, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with our opinion in Johnson v. Robison.

Mr. Justice Douglas has filed an opinion, concurring in result for the reason stated in his dissenting opinion in Johnson v. Robinson.