United States v. Walker

41 M.J. 462 (1995)

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United States v. Walker

United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
41 M.J. 462 (1995)

Facts

Army Specialist William Walker (defendant) was a Muslim who was stationed in Germany. After finding out that Walker’s unit was scheduled to deploy to Saudi Arabia to participate in Operation Desert Shield, Walker submitted a conscientious-objector application, claiming that his religious beliefs prevented him from taking offensive actions against fellow Muslims. Walker was initially reassigned to duties that would likely result in him being transferred back to the United States instead of deploying. However, the military issued a personnel message stating that conscientious-objector applications relating to Operation Desert Shield should be held and processed at the servicemember’s new duty station. Relying on this personnel message, Walker’s command discontinued Walker’s conscientious-objector application and instructed Walker to refile it when he arrived in Saudi Arabia. A few weeks later, on January 2, the Army issued a new message modifying the prior personnel message and allowing servicemembers to file conscientious-objector applications in their current duty stations. However, Walker’s command did not learn about the new order before his unit was scheduled to deploy on January 6. Walker refused to deploy. On January 8, Walker’s command again ordered Walker to deploy, and Walker again refused. Walker was court-martialed and convicted of missing the deployment and disobeying the deployment orders. The Army Court of Military Review set aside the conviction, finding that (1) Walker’s conscientious-objector application meant that Walker had been ineligible for deployment to an overseas location such as Saudi Arabia and (2) Walker’s command had been required to resubmit Walker’s application after the January 2 message. The matter was appealed to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, C.J.)

Concurrence (Cox, J.)

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