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Blameuser v. Andrews

decided: September 22, 1980.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. No. 78-C-739-Myron L. Gordon, Judge .

Before Fairchild, Chief Judge, and Swygert and Pell, Circuit Judges.

Author: Pell

The plaintiff-appellant, William Blameuser, challenges the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Colonel Donald Andrews. The plaintiff was, at the time he commenced this action, a student at St. Norbert College.*fn1 The defendant, a professor of military science, is in charge of the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program at the college. The plaintiff's complaint alleges that the defendant impermissibly considered the plaintiff's political and social beliefs in denying him admission to the ROTC's advanced course. Specifically, the plaintiff argues that he was illegally discriminated against because of his views on white supremacy and his Nazi sympathies. The district court held that the defendant demonstrated a compelling state interest for considering the plaintiff's beliefs and that those beliefs warranted denying the plaintiff admission to the program. Blameuser v. Andrews, 473 F. Supp. 767 (E.D.Wis. 1979).

The facts are to a large extent uncontested. The objective of the Army's senior ROTC program is to attract and prepare selected students, who are paid a monthly stipend, to serve as commissioned officers in the Regular Army or the U.S. Army Reserve. The program is a major source of newly commissioned officers in the Army and includes young men and women from all economic and social strata of our society. The ROTC program is divided into two courses of study. The basic course is normally pursued by a cadet during the freshman and sophomore years of college. Subject to certain requirements, generally all students at a participating college or university are eligible for enrollment. Indeed, the plaintiff here has already enrolled in and completed the basic course. The advanced course is normally pursued in a cadet's junior and senior years. The advanced course includes advanced camp-a six week training period conducted at a military installation, usually between a cadet's junior and senior years. Admission to the advanced course is subject to several requirements including the cadet's possession of "officer potential." Army Regulation 145-1, P 3-17. The defendant Andrews, as a professor of military science, is charged with recruiting the "best qualified" students in the basic course for enrollment in the advanced course. Id. P 2-36.

The plaintiff is a self-proclaimed member of the National Socialist Party of America (NSPA).*fn2 He has publicly professed his belief in white supremacy-a doctrine which he regards as justifying the exclusion of all black and Jewish people from American society. In an application for an ROTC scholarship, he stated:

Should the United States become involved in an anti-communist war I would immediately go into the army and apply for action oversees (sic). I would not, however, volunteer to fight on the side of the Isaelis or of Negro communists in Africa.

Nevertheless, he professes his "loyalty . . . to the U.S. Constitution and The Republic for which It Stands," and has executed the loyalty oath required for enrollment in all ROTC courses.

In a letter to the plaintiff dated October 24, 1978, the defendant stated the reasons for the denial of the plaintiff's application to enroll in the advanced course. The letter stated that a variety of considerations were taken into account and "no single factor . . . prompted this decision." The letter acknowledged, however, that

your publicly stated personal beliefs which appeared in an issue of the St. Norbert Times was the major factor. These beliefs are inconsistent with the policies of the Army, and it would be your duty to uphold and support these policies if you were to become an Army officer. It is highly improbable that you could successfully accomplish this task.

The newspaper article adverted to is an interview of the plaintiff in which he explained his beliefs and the tenets and goals of the NSPA. Among the sentiments expressed by the plaintiff are the following:

We are against any mixing of the races. By the white races I mean all white Europeans of non-Jewish descent.

Q: . . . . If you gained control of the government what would you do with Black and Jewish peoples?

Blameuser: That's a good question. Since it has been pretty well proven that segregation within a society does not work, the best thing that I could think of would be to deport, or repatriate these people to, let's say Africa. That would mean that ...

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