Johnson v. Robison

LOCATION: Matlock Residence

DOCKET NO.: 72-1297
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 415 US 361 (1974)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1973
DECIDED: Mar 04, 1974

Gerald P. Norton - argued the cause for the appellants
Michael David Rosenberg - argued the cause for the appellee

Facts of the case


Media for Johnson v. Robison

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1973 in Johnson v. Robison

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 04, 1974 in Johnson v. Robison

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 Veterans’ Readjustment Act of 1966 provides educational assistance benefits, but draft these inducted into the Armed Forces and also for Conscientious Objectors also inducted into the Armed Forces who served with the troops on non-combatant duty.

The Act does not, however, provide educational assistance benefits, but draft these classified I-O, that is Conscientious Objectors who perform required alternatives civilian service, for example, the two-year service performed by appellee in Johnson v. Robison at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston.

Because appellee was now alternative civilian service performer, the Veterans’ Administration denied his application for educational assistance benefits.

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

The Veterans’ 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 Administrator.

The District Court held that 211 (a) was inapplicable to have 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 suit and also agree that appellee’s First Amendment claim is without merit.

We disagree, however, that the contested sections deny appellee for protection of the laws and therefore reversed 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. Robison, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of an action, brought by a Conscientious Objector who performed alternatives civilian service, on the ground that 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 end result for the reason stated in his dissenting opinion in Johnson v. Robison.