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Case Basics
Docket No. 
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
Facts of the Case 

Goldman was a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force, an Orthodox Jew, and an ordained rabbi. He was not allowed to wear his yarmulke while on duty and in Air Force uniform. An Air Force regulation mandated that indoors, headgear could not be worn "except by armed security police in the performance of their duties."


Did the Air Force Regulation violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment?

Decision: 5 votes for Weinberger, 4 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Free Exercise of Religion

The Court held that the Air Force regulation did not violate the Constitution. Justice Rehnquist argued that, generally, First Amendment challenges to military regulations are examined with less scrutiny than similar challenges from civilian society, given the need for the military to "foster instinctive obedience, unity, commitment, and esprit de corps." Since allowing overt religious apparel "would detract from the uniformity sought by dress regulations," the Air Force regulation was necessary and legitimate. In 1987, Congress passed legislation which reversed this decision and allowed members of the armed forces to wear religious apparel in a "neat and conservative" manner.

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GOLDMAN v. WEINBERGER. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
GOLDMAN v. WEINBERGER, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"GOLDMAN v. WEINBERGER," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,