Fein v. Selective Service System
405 U.S. 365 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Fein v. Selective Service System, 405 U.S. 365 (1972)

Fein v. Selective Service System Local Board No. 7

of Yonkers, New York

No. 70-58

Argued October 12, 1971

Decided March 21, 1972

405 U.S. 365

Syllabus

Following petitioner's classification as a conscientious objector by his local Selective Service Board, the State Director requested an appeal. Petitioner was notified, but was not furnished with the basis for the appeal or given an opportunity to reply. The appeal board unanimously classified petitioner I-A and rejected his conscientious objector claim without stating any reasons therefor. Petitioner was not entitled under the regulations to appeal to the national board, but the National Director, on petitioner's request, did note an appeal. The national board unanimously classified petitioner I-A, with no reasons given. There is no outstanding induction order for petitioner, who brought this pre-induction suit challenging, on due process grounds, the constitutionality of his Selective Service appeal procedures. The District Court dismissed the complaint, finding the suit barred by § 10(b)(3) of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. That section provides that a classification decision of the local board "shall be final, except where an appeal is authorized," and that the classification decision on appeal also "shall be final." It further provides that

"[n]o judicial review shall be made of the classification or processing of any registrant . . . except as a defense to a criminal prosecution . . . after the registrant has responded either affirmatively or negatively to an order to report for induction,"

and then the review "shall go to the question of the jurisdiction . . . only when there is no basis in fact, for the classification." By statute enacted in September, 1971, after petitioner's trial, a registrant is entitled to a personal appearance before a local or appeal board, and, on request, to a statement of reasons for any adverse decision. Ensuing changes in regulation, effective December, 1971, and March, 1972, provide the procedural features that petitioner complained were lacking.

Held:

1. Section 10(b)(3) forecloses pre-induction judicial review where the board has used its discretion and judgment in determining facts and arriving at a classification for the registrant. Clark

Page 405 U. S. 366

v. Gabriel,393 U. S. 256, followed; Oestereich v. Selective Service Board,393 U. S. 233, distinguished. In such case, the registrant's judicial review is confined to situations where he asserts his defense in a criminal prosecution or where, after induction, he seeks a writ of habeas corpus. Pp. 405 U. S. 372-377.

2. Petitioner's immediate induction is not assured, however, in light of the intervening statutory change, the new regulations thereunder, and a change in the Government's position, albeit in a post-induction case, to concede that some statement of reasons is necessary for "meaningful" review of the administrative decision when the registrant's claim has met the statutory criteria or has placed him prima facie within the statutory exemption. Pp. 405 U. S. 377-381.

430 F.2d 376, affirmed.

BLACKMUN, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN and WHITE, JJ., joined. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 405 U. S. 381. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which STEWART, J., joined, post, p. 405 U. S. 387. POWELL and REHNQUIST, JJ., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

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