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Supreme Court of the United States

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John Roberts

Chief Justice

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Neil Gorsuch

Associate Justice

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Anthony Kennedy

Associate Justice

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Neil Gorsuch Aug 7th, 2019
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Neil Gorsuch Jul 12th, 2019
Per Curiam Jun 28th, 2019

Since the Appeal Board gave no reasons for its denial of the petitioner's claim, there is absolutely no way of knowing upon which of the three grounds offered in the Department's letter it relied. Yet the Government now acknowledges that two of those grounds were not valid. This case, therefore, falls squarely within the four corners of this Court's decision in Sicurella v. United States. There, as here, the Court was asked to hold that an error in an advice letter prepared by the Department of Justice did not require reversal of a criminal conviction because there was a ground on which the Appeal Board might properly have denied a conscientious objector classification.

The application of this doctrine in the area of Selective Service law goes back at least to 1945, and Judge Learned Hand's opinion for the Second Circuit in United States v. Cain. It is a doctrine that has been consistently and repeatedly followed by the federal courts in dealing with the criminal sanctions of the selective service laws.

The long established rule of law embodied in these settled precedents thus clearly requires that the judgment before us be reversed.

It is so ordered.


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