Direct Judicial Review of the Actions of the Selective Service System

A registrant may obtain judicial review of Selective Service action in any of three possible ways. If he submits to induction into the Armed Forces, the registrant may challenge the validity of his induction order by petitioning for habeas corpus. If the registrant refuses to submit to induction, and is subsequently indicted for that refusal, he may defend the criminal prosecution on the ground that the order for his induction was unlawful. In addition to these two well-settled methods of obtaining postinduction judicial review, the registrant may have a third alternative. In certain circumstances, he may be able to secure direct review of the legality of his classification prior to the date he is ordered to report for induction. In order to obtain such preinduction review, a civil suit may be brought in federal district court in the form of an action for a declaratory judgment, an action for an injunction, or an action in the nature of mandamus. Of the three methods available for obtaining judicial review of a draft classification, the preinduction action is the most desirable from the registrant’s point of view. If successful, he can secure relief without incurring either the substantial risks of a criminal prosecution or the hardships of induction. From the Selective Service System’s point of view, however, this method is potentially the most dangerous to the rapid and efficient administration of the selection process.14 This Article will consider the availability of preinduction judicial review and the procedural problems incident to such review.