In April 2015, we filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of U.S. Army Specialist Robert Weilbacher, an active-duty medic who came to understand that he was a conscientious objector. After an elaborate investigation, the Department of the Army Conscientious Objector Review Board found that he was sincere and directed the Army to grant him an honorable discharge. Under Army regulations, the Board’s decision is final. But a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army reversed the Board’s decision, giving no reasons (although perhaps it had something to do with the fact that Spc. Weilbacher is a conscientious atheist rather than a member of a recognized religion). Our petition asked the court to uphold the Board’s decision and also asserted an independent claim for his discharge on the ground that the Army had no valid basis on which to deny it.

In May 2015, the district court issued an order directing the Army to show cause why a writ of habeas corpus should not be granted. In response, the Army moved to dismiss the petition. That motion was never decided, however, because in September the Army granted Spc. Weilbacher an honorable discharge “for the convenience of the Army,” and the case became moot. 

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Law Office of Deborah H. Karpatkin, Law Office of Peter Goldberger

Date filed

April 15, 2015