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United States Supreme Court

393 U.S. 920

Johnson  v.  Powell

Elsbeth Levy Bothe, for applicants.

Solicitor General Griswold, in opposition.

The application for a stay of deployment presented to Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, and by him referred to the Court, is denied.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS.

This application for a stay denied by my Brother BLACK was referred to me. I asked for a response from the Solicitor General so that the application could be submitted to the entire Conference October 25, 1968. I have now been advised that petitioners were moved to Vietnam October 24.

This hurried calculated change in military plans has deprived petitioners of the full hearing to which they are entitled. The question is not frivolous as Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution restricts members of the militia to service to 'execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and repel invasions'-none of which, as i unDerstand it, is relevant to service in Vietnam.

The Solicitor General maintains that the status of these petitioners must be measured not as members of the 'militia' but as members of the Ready Reserves with whom we dealt in Morse v. Boswell, 393 U.S. 802, 89 S.Ct. 41, 21 L.Ed.2d 86. That contention might in time prevail, but it is not free of doubt; and I am not yet persuaded that either the Army or the Solicitor General can play loosely with the concept of 'militia' as used in the Constitution and thus create a credibility gap at the constitutional level. It is, after all, the Constitution that creates in our people the faith that no one-not even the Department of Justice nor the military-is above the law.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).