OCS training is demanding and martial. Instructors emphasized the realities of combat day after day...
At some point, this candidate realized he could not in good conscience engage in warfare...
He struggled with his beliefs—even debated them respectfully with the battalion commander—but concluded he could not stay.
It was a painful parting on both sides. He lost a coveted career, the Corps lost a promising candidate. But it had to happen.
Here’s what didn’t happen: Nobody suggested that dropping him from OCS was a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of “the free exercise” of religion. He did not say, “I think that in recognition of my sincere religious opposition to war, you should let me stay in the Corps and get my pilot’s wings. I will do the job, except for one thing: I won’t drop bombs or shoot guns.”
I thought of that incident on Thursday, when I read Miller v. Davis.
Is it possible to agree on what religious freedom is not?
It’s not a right to wear a Marine uniform but refuse to fight.
It’s not a right to be a county clerk and decide which citizens you will serve and which you won’t.
Government in particular has an obligation to dismiss any employee who claims a right to discriminate against citizens.
It’s not good enough to say, “Go to another county if you want a license.” It’s not good enough to say, “I won’t let anyone get married.” Those aren’t a clerk’s decisions to make.
"Central both to the idea of the rule of law and to our own Constitution's guarantee of equal protection is the principle that government and each of its parts remain open on impartial terms to all who seek its assistance,” wrote U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the 1996 case of Romer v. Evans.