Johnson v. Robison

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Johnson v. Robison
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued December 11, 1973
Decided March 4, 1974
Full case name Johnson, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, et al. v. Robison
Citations 415 U.S. 361 (more)
94 S. Ct. 1160; 39 L. Ed. 2d 389; 1974 U.S. LEXIS 108
Prior history District Court for the District of Massachusetts decision for Robison, 352 F. Supp. 848;
Holding
Providing different benefits for uniformed veterans and conscientious objectors does not violate equal protection or the free exercise clause.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Brennan, joined by Burger, Stewart, White, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell, Rehnquist
Dissent Douglas
Laws applied
U.S. Const., amends. I, XIV

Johnson v. Robison, 415 U.S. 361 (1974), was a case heard before the United States Supreme Court. The court held that the Veterans' Administrations' allocation of greater educational benefits to combat veterans than conscientious objectors was consistent with the United States Constitution. Robison, a conscientious objector, argued that such unequal benefits violated his 14th Amendment right to Equal Protection and his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. The court rejected both arguments.

Opinion of the Court[edit]

The court reasoned that a rational basis existed to give combat veterans better benefits than those who objected for religious reasons: namely, encouraging people to participate in the armed forces as soldiers. The court reasoned that the increased disruption and longer commitment for soldiers justified disparate allocation of benefits. As to free exercise, the court held that the withholding of benefits had only an incidental burden, if any, on religious exercise, that that burden was not intended, and that it was justified by the substantial government interest in raising an army.

The Court also held that 38 USC section 211(a) does not preclude constitutional challenges to law administered by the Veteran's Administration.