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CLARK v. GABRIEL

decided: December 16, 1968.

CLARK, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL
v.
GABRIEL



APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA.

Author: Per Curiam

[ 393 U.S. Page 256]

 Appellee's draft Board rejected his claim to classification as a conscientious objector and classified him I-A. His appeals within the Selective Service System were unsuccessful. After he was ordered to report for induction he brought an action in the United States District

[ 393 U.S. Page 257]

     Court for the Northern District of California seeking to have his induction enjoined and to have the rejection of his claim to conscientious objector classification declared improper on the grounds that it had no basis in fact, that the Board had misapplied the statutory definition of conscientious objector, and that the members of the Board were improperly motivated by hostility and bias against those who claim to be conscientious objectors. The District Court entered a preliminary injunction preventing appellee's induction until after a determination of his claim on the merits.

In entering the preliminary injunction, the District Court held that it had jurisdiction to hear appellee's claim despite § 10 (b)(3) of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, 50 U. S. C. App. § 460 (b)(3) (1964 ed., Supp. III), which provides:

"No judicial review shall be made of the classification or processing of any registrant by local boards, appeal boards, or the President, except as a defense to a criminal prosecution instituted under section 12 of this title, after the registrant has responded either affirmatively or negatively to an order to report for induction, or for civilian work in the case of a registrant determined to be opposed to participation in war in any form: Provided, That such review shall go to the question of the jurisdiction herein reserved to local boards, appeal boards, and the President only when there is no basis in fact for the classification assigned to such registrant."

Acknowledging that this statute if applicable would prevent pre-induction review of appellee's classification, the District Court held that, so applied, § 10 (b)(3) was unconstitutional because to provide for judicial consideration of the lawfulness of the Board's action only as a defense to a criminal prosecution would require that appellee pursue a "tortuous judicial adventure" so beset by "hazards"

[ 393 U.S. Page 258]

     and "penalties" as to result "in no review at all." The Government has appealed under 28 U. S. C. § 1252 which allows direct appeal to this Court of "an interlocutory or final judgment, decree or order of any court of the United States . . . holding an Act of Congress unconstitutional in any civil action . . . to which the United States . . . or any officer . . . thereof . . . is a party."

This Court has today, after full consideration, decided Oestereich v. Selective Service Bd., ante, p. 233. Because the result here is dictated by the principles enunciated in that case, it is appropriate to decide this case summarily, reversing the District Court.

In Oestereich the delinquency procedure by which the registrant was reclassified was without statutory basis and in conflict with petitioner's rights explicitly established by the statute and not dependent upon an act of judgment by the Board. Oestereich, as a divinity student, was by statute unconditionally entitled to exemption. Here, by contrast, there is no doubt of the Board's statutory authority to take action which appellee challenges, and that action inescapably involves a determination of fact and an exercise of judgment. By statute, classification as a conscientious objector is expressly conditioned on the registrant's claim being "sustained by the local board." 50 U. S. C. App. § 456 (j) (1964 ed., Supp. III).

Here the Board has exercised its statutory discretion to pass on a particular request for classification, "evaluating evidence and . . . determining whether a claimed exemption is deserved." Oestereich v. Selective Service Bd., supra, at 238. A Local Board must make such a decision in respect of each of the many classification claims presented to it. To allow pre-induction judicial review of such determinations would be to permit precisely the kind of "litigious interruptions of procedures to provide necessary military manpower" (113 Cong. Rec. 15426 (report by Senator Russell on Conference Committee action))

[ 393 U.S. Page 259]

     which Congress sought to prevent when it ...


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