ORLOFF V. WILLOUGHBY, 345 U. S. 83 (1953)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83 (1953)

Orloff v. Willoughby

No. 444

Argued January 13, 1953

Decided March 9, 1953

345 U.S. 83


Petitioner, a physician educated at government expense and beyond the usual draft age, was inducted into the Army under the Doctors' Draft Law, 50 U.S.C.App. § 454(i), which authorizes special conscription of certain "medical and allied specialist categories." Because of his refusal, on grounds of possible self-incrimination, to state in connection with his application for a commission whether he was or had been a member of the Communist Party, he was not commissioned or given the usual duties of an Army doctor, but was assigned duties as a medical laboratory technician. He applied to a federal court for a writ of habeas corpus and for discharge from the Army, on the ground that he had not been assigned the specialized duties or given the commissioned rank to which he claims to be entitled by the circumstances of his induction.


1. Although not bound by it, this Court agrees with the Government's concession that the Act should be interpreted to obligate the Army to classify specially inducted professional personnel for duty within the categories which rendered them liable for induction. Pp. 345 U. S. 87-88.

2. It cannot be found that petitioner is entitled to a commission as a matter of law. Pp. 345 U. S. 88-92.

(a) Neither the Universal Military Training and Service Act nor the Army Reorganization Act requires that all personnel inducted under the Doctors' Draft Act and assigned to the Medical Corps be either commissioned or discharged. Pp. 345 U. S. 88-89.

(b) The commissioning of officers in the Army is a matter of discretion within the province of the President, as Commander in Chief, over which the courts have no control. P. 345 U. S. 90.

(c) The President is not required to appoint to a position of honor and trust any person who refuses, on grounds of self-incrimination, to say whether he is or has been a member of the Communist Party. Pp. 345 U. S. 89-92.

3. One lawfully inducted into the Army may not, through habeas corpus proceedings, obtain a judicial review of his assignments to duty. Pp. 345 U. S. 92-94.

Page 345 U. S. 84

4. Petitioner is not being held in the Army unlawfully, and the courts may not require his discharge therefrom in a habeas corpus proceeding. Pp. 345 U. S. 94-95.

195 F.2d 209 affirmed.

The District Court dismissed petitioner's application for a writ of habeas corpus. 104 F.Supp. 14. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 195 F.2d 209. This Court granted certiorari. 344 U.S. 873. Affirmed, p. 345 U. S. 95.

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