Falbo v. United States
Decided on Jan. 3, 1944; 320 US 549


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Governmental regulation

B. Legal Question Presented:

Did Congress authorize judicial review of the propriety of a board classification, pursuant to the Selective Service and Training Act, in a criminal prosecution for wilfull violation of an order directing a registrant to report for the last step in the selective process?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

"The petitioner was indicted... for knowingly failing to perform a duty required of him under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940... Petitioner defended his conduct on the ground that he was entitled to a statutory exemption from all forms of national service, since the facts he had presented to the board showed that he was a 'regular or duly ordained' minister...

On appeal petitioner... argued that... the [District] Court should have reviewed the classification order to ascertain whether the local board had been 'prejudicial, unfair, and arbitrary' in that it had failed to admit certain evidence which he offered, had acted on the basis of an antipathy to the religious sect of which he is a member, and had refused to classify him as a minister against the overwhelming weight of the evidence. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court per curiam." 

On certiorari the US Supreme Court affirmed the judgment.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Mr. Hayden Covington, of Brooklyn, N.Y., for petitioner. Mr. Charles Fahy, Sol. Gen., of Washington, D.C., for respondent.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"The Act nowhere explicitly provides for [judicial] review [of a board's classification] and we have found nothing in its legislative history which indicates an intention to afford it. The circumstances under which the Act was adopted lend no support to a view which would allow litigious interruption of the process of selection which Congress created...

Careful provision was made for fair administration of the Act's policies within the framework of the selective service process... Surely if Congress had intended to authorize interference with that process by intermediate challenges of orders to report, it would have said so."

The US Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Circuit court of Appeals.
Justice Vote: 1 Pro vs. 8 Con

  • Murphy, F. Pro (Wrote dissenting opinion)
  • Black, H. Con (Wrote majority opinion)
  • Rutledge, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stone, H. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Reed, S. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Frankfurter, F. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Douglas, W. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Jackson, R. Con (Joined majority opinion)
  • Roberts, O. Con (Joined majority opinion)
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU, as amicus curiae, urged reversal of the judgment the Court of Appeals; the Supreme Court affirmed in a 1-8 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.