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GOLDMAN v. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

July 10, 1981

S. Simcha GOLDMAN, Jr., Plaintiff,
v.
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON, JR.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Before the Court are Plaintiff's Motions for a Preliminary and Permanent Injunction in the above captioned case. Plaintiff is a member of the Orthodox Jewish faith, and is an ordained rabbi. Defendants are the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Air Force, and this action is brought against them in their official capacity. This action arises under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. This Court has jurisdiction over the instant action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1361, and venue is conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 1391(e). See, e.g., Stafford v. Briggs, 444 U.S. 527, 544, 100 S. Ct. 774, 784, 63 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1980). The facts, for the purpose of this motion, are set forth below:

 FACTS

 Plaintiff is a Captain in the United States Air Force on active duty, and has been stationed at the March Air Force Base (March AFB) since September 1977. He is currently assigned to the Mental Health Clinic of the Air Force Regional Hospital at March AFB, where he serves as a clinical psychologist.

 Plaintiff is an Orthodox Jew. Consistent with the requirements of Orthodox Jewish practice, Plaintiff wears a skull cap, or yarmulke, at all times. He wore a skull cap prior to his tenure with the Air Force, and has consistently complied with his religious requirement from May 1977 to present.

 Until May of 1981, Plaintiff wore his yarmulke while on duty and in uniform without incident; no objections were raised by any of his superior officers. On May 8, 1981, however, Plaintiff was informed by Colonel Joseph Gregory, the Hospital Commander at March AFB, that Air Force Regulation (AFR) 35-10 did not permit the wearing of a yarmulke by Air Force personnel while they were in uniform. Colonel Gregory ordered Plaintiff to stop wearing his yarmulke while in uniform at all places at March AFB except for the Regional Hospital. Plaintiff explained the nature and significance of the religious observance, and requested permission from Colonel Gregory to continue wearing his yarmulke at all times. Plaintiff's request was denied. Plaintiff contacted counsel, who attempted to resolve the dispute informally. This proved unsuccessful.

 On June 23, 1981, Colonel Gregory ordered Plaintiff to cease wearing his yarmulke while in uniform at all places at March AFB. Colonel Gregory explained that the wearing of a yarmulke violated AFR 35-10 and, despite Plaintiff's explanations regarding the nature and importance of his religious observances, refused to reconsider his order. At the time of Colonel Gregory's order, in an effort to forestall confrontation, Plaintiff requested permission to report for duty in civilian clothing so that his wearing of a skull cap would not conflict with the Colonel's interpretation of AFR 35-10. This request was denied.

 On June 24, 1981, following Plaintiff's refusal to remove his yarmulke and comply with Colonel Gregory's order, Plaintiff was given a letter of reprimand and has been threatened with additional sanctions, including a court-martial. At Plaintiff's request, enforcement and processing of the letter of reprimand and resulting punitive measures were delayed until June 29, 1981, the date upon which Plaintiff's military area defense counsel was scheduled to return to March AFB. On June 25, 1981, Plaintiff was informed by Colonel Gregory that he had decided to withdraw a positive recommendation he had submitted in favor of Plaintiff's application for a one year extension of his service in the Air Force, and had, that day, submitted a negative recommendation on that application. On June 30, 1981, Plaintiff was informed that formal processing of the letter of reprimand was underway. On July 2, 1981, Plaintiff applied for a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining AFR 35-10 to prohibit Plaintiff from wearing a yarmulke while in uniform. After a hearing, this Court granted Plaintiff's request, issued the Order, and required Defendants to show, on July 10, 1981, why a Preliminary Injunction should not be issued.

 Prior to the hearing held this date, Defendants submitted an affidavit by Major General Herbert L. Emanuel. This affidavit explains the following:

 AFR 35-10 states that "Air Force members will wear the Air Force Uniform while performing their military duties... members will wear only the uniform items as prescribed by this regulation." According to General Emanuel, AFR 35-10 therefore precludes wearing "unauthorized items," such as a yarmulke, while in uniform, and does not permit Air Force personnel to wear civilian clothing while on duty. However, AFR 35-10 1-8(a) provides that "Major commanders may approve the optional wear of civilian clothing on duty when it is in the best interest of Air Force." Explaining the Air Force's position in the instant case, General Emanuel states:

 
The Air Force is a uniformed service whose primary mission is to fly and to fight or to be ready to fight. A basic and fundamental keystone to an effective fighting force is discipline and espirit de corps in its enlisted and its commissioned personnel. Pride in the proper wear of the military uniform by all military personnel is absolutely essential to the maintenance of proper discipline and to high morale and espirit de corps.... Violations of uniform dress and appearance standards is especially destructive to discipline and espirit de corps when the violator is a commissioned officer.
 
Air Force Regulation 35-10 mandates compliance with the dress and appearance standards set forth therein. The standards consist of four elements-neatness, cleanliness, safety and military image. The latter element is particularly important because other people draw certain conclusions about the individual and the service based on what they see. Our appearance must instill confidence and leave no doubt that all Air Force people respect and live by a common standard and are responsive to military order and discipline. By entering the Air Force, all of our people voluntarily agree to live and work by a set of standards that are a part of our way of life. In view of our mission responsibilities, we cannot afford to accept less than total commitment.
 
The military's ability to recruit and replenish itself depends, to a large extent on the public perception and support of the civilian populace. In our view, public support and confidence is most readily given to institutions which instill confidence. Our appearance standards project an image of ...

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