The petitioner, Daniel Jay Schacht, was indicted in a United States District Court for violating 18 U. S. C. § 702, which makes it a crime for any person "without authority [to wear] the uniform or a distinctive part thereof . . . of any of the armed forces of the United States . . . ." He was tried and convicted by a jury, and on February 29, 1968, he was sentenced to pay a fine of $250 and to serve a six-month prison term, the maximum sentence allowable under 18 U. S. C. § 702. There is no doubt that Schacht did wear distinctive parts of the uniform of the United States Army and that he was not a member of the Armed Forces. He has defended his conduct since the beginning, however, on the ground that he was authorized to wear the uniform by an Act of Congress, 10 U. S. C. § 772 (f), which provides as follows:
"When wearing by persons not on active duty authorized.
"(f) While portraying a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps, an actor in a *60 theatrical or motion-picture production may wear the uniform of that armed force if the portrayal does not tend to discredit that armed force." (Emphasis added.)Schacht argued in the trial court and in this Court that he wore the army uniform as an "actor" in a "theatrical production" performed several times between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. on December 4, 1967, in front of the Armed Forces Induction Center at Houston, Texas. The street skit in which Schacht wore the army uniform as a costume was designed, in his view, to expose the evil of the American presence in Vietnam and was part of a larger, peaceful antiwar demonstration at the induction center that morning. The Court of Appeals' opinion affirming the conviction summarized the facts surrounding the skit as follows:
"The evidence indicates that the demonstration in Houston was part of a nationally coordinated movement which was to take place contemporaneously at several places throughout the country. The appellants and their colleagues prepared a script to be followed at the induction center and they actually rehearsed their roles at least once prior to the appointed day before a student organization called the `Humanists.'
"The skit was composed of three people. There was Schacht who was dressed in a uniform and cap. A second person was wearing `military colored' coveralls. The third person was outfitted in typical Viet Cong apparel. The first two men carried water pistols. One of them would yell, `Be an able American,' and then they would shoot the Viet Cong with their pistols. The pistols expelled a red liquid which, when it struck the victim, created the impression *61 that he was bleeding. Once the victim fell down the other two would walk up to him and exclaim, `My God, this is a pregnant woman.' Without noticeable variation this skit was reenacted several times during the morning of the demonstration." 414 F. 2d 630, 632.