This Article argues that a key-but-overlooked factor in the Vietnam-era breakdown of the draft system was the Supreme Court’s expansion of the religious conscientious objector ("CO") exemption. It asserts that the Court understood that the CO exemption violated the Establishment Clause, but rather than strike the exemption down, the Court avoided the constitutional issue by interpreting away the religious element of CO statutes. The Article concludes that the Court’s rulings caused CO exemptions to skyrocket, which in turn caused the draft system to collapse toward the end of the Vietnam War.
How Conscientious Objectors Killed the Draft: The Collapse of the Selective Service during the Vietnam War,
68 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol68/iss2/5