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Readings and Course Materials for this week:  Article Three of the US Constitution; outside articles on the Supreme Court; selected sections in the Toobin book; background on Muhammad Ali’s case; video Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay in Kentucky in 1942, is considered one of the greatest athletes of the twentieth century.  By the age of 18 he had won an Olympic Gold Medal in boxing and at 22 he was the Heavyweight Champion of the World.  Two years later, his career as a boxer was interrupted by an event that was to put his stellar performance on hold in his prime years:  His refusal to be inducted into the United States Army to fight in Vietnam.
After the defeat of the colonial French forces by the nationalist army of Ho Chi Minh in 1954, the United States had gone in first with advisors, then with troops to prevent the victory of the Vietnamese who were fighting for the independence of their country from foreign domination.  By the early 1960s, the military build-up was steadily growing into a full blown war.
It was at this time, Cassius Clay, who had converted to Islam and assumed the name of Muhammad Ali, was told to report to his local draft board in Kentucky for induction into the Army.  When his name was called he did not step forward and stood through three calls before he was taken away for questioning.  He declared that he was a Conscientious Objector (CO) to the Vietnam war based on his religious beliefs.  Conscientious objection, the right to refuse military service based on freedom of thought, conscience or religion, dates back to Roman times and was established in the United States since its founding in 1788.
The Selective Service System of the United States which oversees service in the military in times of a draft as well as in times of a voluntary army, is an administrative agency with offices at all levels of governance starting with the local board and going all the way to a national board.  It allows for hearings at all levels of administrative law and a claimant can appeal any decision of the Selective Service Boards in all levels of federal courts.
Ali’s claim for CO status was rejected by the local board.  He appealed to the Kentucky State Board which wrote to the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) for an advisory recommendation.  The DOJ convened a hearing to decide what to do.  The Hearing Officer recommended acceptance of Ali’s CO status based on the three-pronged standard promulgated by the Selective Service System (see attachment on the current standard in Week 6).  The elements to be considered are as follows.  The claimant must:
1)  be opposed to all wars
2)  have shaped this belief through religious or secular education or training
3)  be sincere in this belief