Goldman v. Weinberger involved a lawsuit by an Orthodox Jewish Air Force officer alleging that Air Force regulations prohibiting him from wearing his yarmulke violated his free exercise rights. In upholding the regulations and deciding against the officer, the Supreme Court noted that First Amendment challenges to military regulations are reviewed under a more deferential standard than similar regulations in the civilian context. The unique need for the military to foster an environment of unity and obedience makes it necessary for individuals to sacrifice certain personal desires to the needs of the service. The Court accepted the Air Force’s judgment that a uniform dress code encourages the appropriate level of subordination and obedience necessary for the military to function. In the face of such a compelling government interest, the Court found that the First Amendment does not require the military to exempt certain individuals from abiding by its dress regulations.
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