Reversing two previous refusals, the Navy granted conscientious objector status to a submariner-in-training and honorably discharged him on Feb. 16, the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented him, said in a press release Tuesday.
The former ensign, Michael Izbicki, 25, found his Quaker views diverging from those required of a naval officer as he entered active duty. In a routine psychological screening at nuclear power school, as he prepared to serve aboard submarines, he was asked if he would launch a nuclear missile. He answered no.
Izbicki had embraced pacifism after a period of intense study and reflection. But in his life in Groton, Ct., he commuted between two seemingly irreconcilable stations: Naval Submarine School, where he worked, and St. Francis House, the pacifist Christian community where he lived.
The Navy twice rejected his applications for conscientious objector status and the ACLU, on his behalf, took his case to federal court in November.
“After the filing the case, the Navy took a third look at the [conscientious objector]packet and recognized him as a conscientious objector,” ACLU of Connecticut staff attorney David McGuire said in a phone interview. “And I think it’s important to note that the papers that we filed in federal court contained the exact same facts as those in the second sealed application.”
Asked what’s next for Izbicki, McGuire said: “He’s probably going to go back to California, where his family is from and where he’s originally from. But the main thing is: He’s looking forward to being free of conflicts between his religious beliefs and his work.”
Izbicki, as part of the agreement, will have to reimburse the Navy for the cost of his education, which includes four years at the Naval Academy and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University. The Navy, McGuire said, will send him the bill.