Quimbee logo with url
From our private database of 15,100+ case briefs...

Welsh v. United States

United States Supreme Court
398 U.S. 333 (1970)


Section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act provides that no individual who is opposed to participating in war because of his or her religious beliefs can be compelled to do so. While this exemption includes religious beliefs, § 6(j) does not exempt individuals who have a philosophical or moral opposition to war. Elliott Welsh (plaintiff) applied for a conscientious-objector exemption under § 6(j). However, Welsh refused to sign a required statement that he was opposed to participating in a war due to his religious beliefs, because Welsh did not want to affirm or deny a belief in God. Welsh did state that he had a conscientious objection to participating in a war in which people were killed, because he believed the taking of any life to be wrong. Welsh also stated that he would prefer to go to jail than serve in the army. Welsh was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment. The court of appeals affirmed the conviction, and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

Concurrence (Harlan, J.)

Dissent (White, J.)

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 287,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 15,100 briefs, keyed to 204 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.