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BREEN v. SELECTIVE SERVICE LOCAL BOARD NO. 16 ET AL.

decided: January 26, 1970.

BREEN
v.
SELECTIVE SERVICE LOCAL BOARD NO. 16 ET AL.



CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT.

Burger, Black, Douglas, Harlan, Brennan, Stewart, White, Marshall

Author: Black

[ 396 U.S. Page 461]

 MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion the Court.

This case raises a question concerning the right of a young man ordered to report for induction into the Armed Forces to challenge the legality of that order prior to reporting for duty. Petitioner Breen, while enrolled in the Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, was given a II-S student classification by his local draft board, and deferred from military service pursuant to the provisions of the Military Selective Service Act of 1967, 81 Stat. 100, 50 U. S. C. App. § 451 et seq. (1964 ed. and Supp. IV). According to an agreed stipulation of facts, in November 1967 he surrendered his draft registration card to a minister at a public gathering "for the sole purpose of protesting United States involvement in the war in Vietnam." Shortly thereafter his local draft board declared he was "delinquent" for failing to have his draft card in his possession and at the same time reclassified him I-A -- available for military service.*fn1 He appealed this reclassification to the appropriate Selective Service Appeal Board, and while that appeal was pending filed this suit

[ 396 U.S. Page 462]

     in the United States District Court in February 1968, seeking an injunction against any possible induction into the Armed Forces on the ground that his delinquency reclassification was invalid. The respondent local board moved to dismiss the suit for want of jurisdiction, relying on § 10 (b)(3) of the Act which provides that:

"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 . . . ."*fn2 50 U. S. C. App. § 460 (b)(3) (1964 ed., Supp. IV).

The District Court granted the motion to dismiss and Breen appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals.*fn3 While the appeal was pending, we rendered our decision in Oestereich v. Selective Service Bd., 393 U.S. 233 (1968), holding that § 10 (b)(3) did not bar preinduction judicial review in the circumstances presented in that case. Although Breen argued that Oestereich controlled his own case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court's dismissal of the suit, with one judge dissenting, holding that Oestereich did not cover this case and § 10 (b)(3) therefore required dismissal of the suit. 406 F.2d 636 (C. A. 2d Cir. 1969). We granted

[ 396 U.S. Page 463]

     a petition for certiorari, 394 U.S. 997 (1969), and, because we conclude that Oestereich does control this case, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

In Oestereich a student preparing for the ministry surrendered his draft registration card in protest against the war in Vietnam and was reclassified as a "delinquent." He then filed suit seeking to enjoin his induction, claiming that he was being inducted contrary to the clear statutory requirement that students preparing for the ministry "shall be exempt from training and service" under the Act, 50 U. S. C. App. § 456 (g). We held in that case that since Congress had unambiguously said that students preparing for the ministry were not to be drafted and, since there was no indication in the statute that such exemptions could be denied for "delinquency," Oestereich's induction was unlawful and in such a case § 10 (b)(3) would not be interpreted to bar preinduction judicial review and thereby force the registrant to submit to an illegal induction or risk the possibility of a criminal prosecution to regain his exempt status.

In the present case petitioner Breen argues that he, like Oestereich, should not be inducted and he relies on § 6 (h)(1) of the Act, which provides that:

"Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph, the President shall, under such rules and regulations as he may prescribe, provide for the deferment from training and service in the Armed Forces of persons satisfactorily pursuing a full-time course of instruction at a college, university, or similar institution of learning ...


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