MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
Petitioner was indicted for willfully and knowingly failing to report for and submit to induction into the
The facts are not in dispute. Petitioner registered with his local Selective Service board shortly after his 18th birthday and thereafter completed his classification
On March 23, 1964, he was ordered to report for a pre-induction physical, but failed to do so. He was declared a delinquent and ordered to report for induction on May 11, 1964. He failed to report, but instead wrote a letter to his local board indicating that his moral beliefs prevented him from cooperating with the Selective Service System. The local board replied by sending petitioner the form for claiming conscientious objector status. The board also referred to petitioner's indication in his original questionnaire that he was a sole surviving son and requested further information on that subject.
On May 20, 1964, petitioner returned the blank form, stating that he did not wish to be a conscientious objector. In response to the board's request for information about his claim to be a sole surviving son, petitioner indicated that his father had been killed in World War II. The local board, after consulting the State Director, again wrote petitioner requesting more information about his father. Petitioner supplied some of the information. The local board forwarded this information to the State
Early in 1966, the local board learned of the death of petitioner's mother. After checking with the State Director, the board returned petitioner to Class I-A. The board rested this decision on the theory that a IV-A classification became improper when petitioner's "family unit" ceased to exist on the death of his mother. Petitioner was ordered to report for a pre-induction physical. He failed to report and was declared a delinquent and ordered to report for induction. He again failed to report and, after further investigation, his criminal prosecution followed.
We think it clear that petitioner was exempt from military service as a sole surviving son. The sole surviving son exemption originated in the Selective Service Act of 1948, c. 625, § 6 (o), 62 Stat. 613. As originally enacted, that section provided exemption for the sole surviving son only "[w]here one or more sons or daughters of a family were killed in action . . . while
There is no question that petitioner was entitled to an exemption before the death of his mother. The issue is whether her death, and the end of the immediate "family unit," ended that exemption.
We have found no cases discussing this aspect of § 6 (o).
The argument for conditioning the exemption upon the continued existence of a family unit is based not upon the language or structure of the statute but upon certain references in the legislative history. These comments indicate that one purpose of the exemption was to provide "solace and consolation" to the remaining family members by guaranteeing the presence of the sole surviving son. See S. Rep. No. 1119, 88th Cong., 2d Sess., 3 (1964); Hearings before Subcommittee No. 1 of the House Committee on Armed Services on H. R. 2664, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 3442-3443 (1963). When there is no one left to comfort, it is argued, the sole surviving son may be drafted. However, our examination of the sparse legislative history discloses that Congress
Perhaps chief among these other purposes was a desire to avoid extinguishing the male line of a family through the death in action of the only surviving son. See S. Rep. No. 1119, supra; Hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on H. R. 2664, 88th Cong., 1st Sess., 30-31 (1963); 110 Cong. Rec. 15218 (1964) (remarks of Senator Keating). Other purposes mentioned were providing financial support for the remaining family members, fairness to the registrant who has lost his father in the service of his country, and the feeling that there is, under normal circumstances, a limit to the sacrifice that one family must make in the service of the country. See Hearing before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on H. R. 2664, supra, at 30-31; Hearings before Subcommittee No. 1 of the House Committee on Armed Services on H. R. 2664, supra, at 3442-3443; 109 Cong. Rec. 24889 (1963).
Perhaps the most that can be said in these circumstances is that Congress had multiple purposes in mind in providing an exemption for a sole surviving son. Depriving petitioner of an exemption might not frustrate one of these purposes, but it certainly would frustrate several of the others. Therefore, given the beneficent basis for § 6 (o), we cannot believe that Congress intended to make one factor, the existence of a "family unit," crucial. Accordingly, the death of petitioner's mother did not operate to deprive him of his right to be exempt from military service. The local board erred in classifying petitioner I-A and ordering him to report for induction.
The Government maintains, however, that petitioner cannot raise the invalidity of his I-A classification and
The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies is well established in the jurisprudence of administrative law. See generally 3 K. Davis, Administrative Law Treatise § 20.01 et seq. (1958 ed., 1965 Supp.); L. Jaffe, Judicial Control of Administrative Action 424-458 (1965). The doctrine provides "that no one is entitled to judicial relief for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed administrative remedy has been exhausted." Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41, 50-51 (1938). The doctrine is applied in a number of different situations and is, like most judicial doctrines, subject to numerous exceptions.
Perhaps the most common application of the exhaustion doctrine is in cases where the relevant statute provides that certain administrative procedures shall be exclusive. See Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41 (1938) (National Labor Relations Act). The reasons for making such procedures exclusive, and for the judicial application of the exhaustion doctrine in cases where the statutory requirement of exclusivity is not so explicit, are not difficult to understand. A primary purpose is, of course, the avoidance of premature interruption of the administrative process. The agency, like
Closely related to the above reasons is a notion peculiar to administrative law. The administrative agency is created as a separate entity and invested with certain powers and duties. The courts ordinarily should not interfere with an agency until it has completed its action, or else has clearly exceeded its jurisdiction. As Professor Jaffe puts it, "[t]he exhaustion doctrine is, therefore, an expression of executive and administrative autonomy."
Some of these reasons apply equally to cases like the present one, where the administrative process is at an end and a party seeks judicial review of a decision that was not appealed through the administrative process. Particularly, judicial review may be hindered by the failure of the litigant to allow the agency to make a factual record, or to exercise its discretion or apply its expertise. In addition, other justifications for requiring exhaustion in cases of this sort have nothing to do with the dangers
In Selective Service cases, the exhaustion doctrine must be tailored to fit the peculiarities of the administrative system Congress has created. At the heart of the Selective Service System are the local boards, which are charged in the first instance with registering and classifying those subject to the Selective Service laws. 32 CFR § 1613.1 et seq., §§ 1621.1-1623.10 (1969). Upon being classified by the local board, the registrant has a right of appeal to a state appeal board, 32 CFR § 1626.2 (1969), and, in some instances, to the President, 32 CFR § 1627.3 (1969). No registrant is required to appeal.
At some stage during this process, normally shortly before he is expected to be ordered to report for induction, see 32 CFR § 1628.11 (1969), the registrant is required to complete a pre-induction physical examination. If he passes this examination, he ordinarily will be ordered to
If the registrant fails to report for induction, he is, like petitioner in the present case, subject to criminal prosecution. Although the Universal Military Training and Service Act, as it stood at the time of petitioner's trial, provided that the decisions of the local boards were "final," it was long ago established that a registrant charged with failure to report can raise the defense that there was "no basis in fact" for his classification. See Estep v. United States, 327 U.S. 114, 123 (1946). It is also established that there can be no judicial review at all, with some exceptions, until the registrant has refused to submit to induction and is prosecuted, or else has submitted to induction and seeks release by habeas corpus.
This case raises a different question. We are not here faced with a premature resort to the courts—all administrative
First of all, it is well to remember that use of the exhaustion doctrine in criminal cases can be exceedingly harsh. The defendant is often stripped of his only defense; he must go to jail without having any judicial review of an assertedly invalid order. This deprivation of judicial review occurs not when the affected person is affirmatively asking for assistance from the courts but when the Government is attempting to impose criminal sanctions on him. Such a result should not be tolerated unless the interests underlying the exhaustion rule clearly outweigh the severe burden imposed upon the registrant if he is denied judicial review.
The question of whether petitioner is entitled to exemption as a sole surviving son is, as we have seen, solely
We are thus left with the Government's argument that failure to require exhaustion in the present case will induce registrants to bypass available administrative remedies. The Government fears an increase in litigation and a consequent danger of thwarting the primary function of the Selective Service System, the rapid mobilization of manpower. This argument is based upon the proposition that the Selective Service System will, through its own processes, correct most errors and thus avoid much litigation. The exhaustion doctrine is assertedly necessary to compel resort to these processes. The Government also speculates that many more registrants will risk criminal prosecution if their claims need not carry into court the stigma of denial not only by their local boards, but also by at least one appeal board.
We do not, however, take such a dire view of the likely consequences of today's decision. At the outset, we
We do not view the cases of Falbo v. United States, 320 U.S. 549 (1944), and Estep v. United States, 327 U.S. 114 (1946), insofar as they concern the exhaustion doctrine, as a bar to today's holding. Neither those two cases, nor any of the other cases decided by this Court,
Finally, we are faced with the argument that petitioner's challenge to the validity of his classification is barred by his failure to report for and pass his pre-induction physical, thus giving the System one last chance to reject him. The Government points to the fact that large numbers of registrants are rejected for physical and mental reasons, and asserts that many criminal trials would be rendered unnecessary if registrants were required to report for a physical before being allowed to challenge their classifications.
We think there are several answers to this argument. First, as we said above, we doubt very much whether very many registrants would pass up the chance to escape service by reason of physical or mental defects and leap immediately at the chance to defend a criminal prosecution. But more importantly, a registrant is under a duty to comply with the order to report for a physical examination
We do not regard Falbo v. United States, supra, as a bar to this holding. Falbo involved an attempt to raise the invalidity of a registrant's classification as a defense to a criminal prosecution for failure to report to a civilian work camp. The Court noted that the defendant had not reported to the work camp and thus had not given the Selective Service System the opportunity to reject him for physical or mental reasons. According to the Court, the "narrow question . . . presented . . . [was] whether Congress has authorized judicial review of the propriety of a board's classification in a criminal prosecution for wilful violation of an order directing a registrant to report for the last step in the selective process." 320 U. S., at 554. The Court held that Congress had not authorized such review.
Falbo was limited by Estep v. United States, supra, which held that a registrant could secure limited judicial review of his classification in a criminal prosecution for failure to report if he had pursued his administrative remedies to an end. In Estep, the registrant had reported, had been accepted for induction, but had refused to be inducted.
The holding of the Court in Falbo was based in part on a fear of litigious interruption of the Selective Service System. We have dealt with that problem in other cases. See Clark v. Gabriel, 393 U.S. 256 (1968); Oestereich v. Selective Service Board, 393 U.S. 233 (1968). It is not presented here. As noted above, the administrative process in this case is at an end.
Finally, the Court in Falbo was concerned with the possibility that a registrant might be rejected for physical or mental reasons, thus making a criminal prosecution
We hold that petitioner's failure to appeal his classification and failure to report for his pre-induction physical do not bar a challenge to the validity of his classification as a defense to his criminal prosecution for refusal to submit to induction. We also hold that petitioner was entitled to exemption from military service as a sole surviving son. Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the court below and remand the case for entry of a judgment of acquittal.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, concurring.
The principle of Oestereich v. Selective Service Board, 393 U.S. 233, should dispose of this case. There a registrant was plainly entitled to a statutory exemption from service because he was a divinity student. Yet he was denied the exemption because, having burned his draft card, he was classified as a "delinquent" by Selective Service. He challenged that action in a civil suit for pre-induction review; and we granted relief.
This is not a suit for pre-induction review, but a defense tendered in a criminal prosecution. This statutory
If Oestereich could raise his claim to statutory exemption in a civil suit at a pre-induction stage, it follows a fortiori that petitioner can do so in a criminal prosecution for failure to obey the Act's mandate.
The truth of the matter is that it was the Selective Service Board that acted in a "lawless" manner;
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, concurring in the result.
The Court's opinion, as I understand it, does not dispense with the necessity of presenting an issue under the draft laws to the registrant's local board for consideration in the first instance. Petitioner did exactly this, and by its decision, the Court provides no avenue for totally bypassing the Selective Service System and using the courts as an alternative to the local draft boards. Any decision to the contrary would be inconsistent with the well-established principle that the responsible administrative
It is petitioner's failure to exhaust appellate remedies available within the Selective Service System which presents the obstacle to the challenge of his classification in the courts. And while this facet of the exhaustion doctrine, like its other facets, admits of exceptions when special circumstances warrant, see, e. g., Donato v. United States, 302 F.2d 468 (C. A. 9th Cir. 1962), I cannot agree with the Court's apparent conclusion that petitioner's failure to exhaust appellate remedies within the System can be disregarded on the broader ground that only a question of law is involved. Questions of law have not, in the past, been thought to be immune from exhaustion requirements. See, e. g., Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp., 303 U.S. 41 (1938). Indeed, this Court has often emphasized that the expertise of the responsible agency is entitled to great deference in matters of statutory construction,
Although I would stop far short of the broad strokes used by the Court in this respect, I do agree that petitioner's failure to exhaust appellate remedies does not bar review of his classification on the facts of this case. Undoubtedly, Congress could require such exhaustion as a prerequisite to judicial review, see, e. g., Yakus v. United States, 321 U.S. 414 (1944), but Congress has not chosen to do so.
Had Congress wished to condition the exemption on the existence of a family unit, it would also seem logical for it to have defined that "family unit." For example, the trial in the present case disclosed that both of petitioner's maternal grandparents and his paternal grandmother were still living. Nothing in the statute indicates whether these relatives should be considered part of the "family."
"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 . . . after the registrant has responded either affirmatively or negatively to an order to report for induction . . . . 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." 50 U. S. C. App. § 460 (b) (3) (1964 ed., Supp. III).
We have recently had occasion to interpret this section in the context of pre-induction challenges to classifications. See Clark v. Gabriel, 393 U.S. 256 (1968); Oestereich v. Selective Service Board, 393 U.S. 233 (1968). We have granted certiorari in Breen v. Selective Service Board, No. 1144, cert. granted, 394 U.S. 997, to consider the applicability of § 10 (b) (3) to pre-induction challenges to allegedly "punitive" reclassifications.
It should be noted that where agency orders are not suspended during the pendency of an administrative appeal, Congress has seen fit to permit judicial review without exhaustion of appellate remedies. Administrative Procedure Act § 10 (c), 5 U. S. C. § 704 (1964 ed., Supp. III). Under that section, however, if the agency action is inoperative during administrative review, the agency may require exhaustion by its own rules. Since induction may not be ordered during a registrant's appeal, 32 CFR §§ 1626.41, 1627.8 (1969), the Selective Service System could require exhaustion even if subject to § 10 (c) of the APA. The administration of the draft laws, however, is not covered by the APA, and the necessity for exhausting appellate remedies would seem to rest on the general doctrine developed by the courts.